Strategicon OrcCon 2013 – Part 1

Program and Badge
Program and Badge

It seems I completely skipped posting about any of the conventions in 2012! Once the dust has settled maybe I’ll see if I still have my notes and rectify that.

I was recently lucky enough to attend the OrcCon 2013 gaming convention here in L.A., and as always I had an absolute blast.

Over the course of four days I played in six totally fun games, ran two totally fun games, enjoyed the Happy Jacks Live Podcast, and got to hang out with gaming chummers I don’t always get to see enough of.¬†I am already looking forward to the next con!

That’s the short version. ūüôā Click on for the rest!


Note: there may be spoilers below for some of the games I played in. Be careful if you are a regular Strategicon attendee and might play them in the future!

Prior to OrcCon 2013 I wasn’t sure for the longest time if I was going to run anything, but eventually I decided to run a couple slots of GURPS games set in the city of Cynosure, from the most-beloved GrimJack comics of the ’80s. This is, literally, the perfect setting for GURPS, as it lets you have swords, clubs, revolvers, lasers, power armor, aliens, magic, psionics, and anything else you can think of all in the same hodge-podge.

I’ll talk a bit more about the game prep when I get to the Sunday and Monday slots, and I’d also like to post a more detailed look at creating this con one-shot next week some time. For now: they went better than I could have hoped!

My favorite part of the con weekend has quickly become the drive to and from the hotel with Gina and JiB, friends I made through the con who are now also players in my twice-monthly GURPS games. It’s awesome to be able to just hang out and gab in the car, catch up, talk about games we’re looking forward to on the drive Friday and games we loved (or hated) on Monday. They swung by around 10:30 am, we crammed my few bags into the car (one for clothes, one for player necessities, one for GM necessities), and all made it to the hotel by noon.

After a quick check-in, badge pick-up, and Subway lunch with Rob from the illustrious Monkey in the Cage podcast … it was time for the first game.


What Is Best In Life?

Slot: Friday, 2pm Р6pm
System: Dungeonworld
My Character: Fafnir the Triumphant (charismatic human barbarian)
GM: Sayler
Players: 4/4
Dice mechanic: 2d6, roll low

Fafnir - Front
Fafnir – Front
Fafnir - Back
Fafnir – Back











In this game our entire party was made up of Barbarians. I chose to be a “charisma-type,” which basically meant I liked to talked to things before I smashed them to a bloody pulp. We forayed into the mysterious Tomb of the Lich Queen, and Sayler did an awesome job of shepherding us through a good old-fashioned dungeon romp, cutting a gory swath through kobolds, ghouls, vampires, and of course the Lich Queen herself.

During our very first combat, a kobold ambush, one of the PCs (a barbarian named Lur) lost a pinky to a spear slash, leaving him only three fingers on his left hand. Further into the Tomb we discovered a frescoe showing the Lich Queen as having only three fingers on each hand, three rings on each hand, a crown with three tiers, etc. So during our final battle against the Queen, Lur chewed off the pinky of his right hand to help him defeat her.

Bad-ass. ¬†ūüôā

Having a game this good in the very first slot I took to be a good omen, and I was right – it was a fantastic convention.

After some socializing and a quick dinner at the always-glacially-paced hotel bar, it was off to…

The Gatling Decision

Slot: Friday, 8pm Рmidnight
System: Savage Worlds
My Character: Henry Newton Brown (ex-sheriff and pistoleer)
GM: Sam
Players: 5/6
Dice mechanic: polyhedrals + d6 wild die, exploding, roll high

Henry Newton Brown
Henry Newton Brown
Savage Worlds Summary
Savage Worlds Summary











This was an entirely Happy Jack crew (myself, Stork, Rob, CADave, and William), GMed by Happy Jacker Sam, which pretty much spells awesome in all known languages. Sam once again set up a damn perty table, with green felt on the table, poker chips and old west cards (which were used for the in-game poker game), .45 bullet casings for bennies, and shot glasses (which were also used – thanks for the vodka and hard cider shots, fellas!).

He also had excellent player hand-outs, including the Wanted Poster character sheets and Savage Worlds summary above, plus individual print-outs for each weapon and a master list of in-game hindrances we could choose for ourselves.

The PCs were a rag-tag collection of those unjustly accused and persecuted for crimes we didn’t commit that banded together to form a group called The Forsaken, dedicated to righting wrongs and seeking justice. In addition to the poker game and rousing bar fight in the town of Sweetwater, there were shoot-outs aplenty, dynamite, double-crosses, and a thrilling combat aboard a hurtling train.

Most excellent!

My friend Jasmine also arrived during this game – she’s a long-time gamer, and also plays in my GURPS games, but had never been to a convention before. All the excited talk and war stories from myself, Gina, JiB, Joe, and Megan convinced her she was missing out, so OrcCon 2013 officially became her first con (and yes — she had a great time!)

Game wrapped up just after midnight, so I took a break from checking the insides of my eyelids for holes (sucks getting old!) and toddled off to bed.

First day done, two most-excellent games … things are looking good! Zzzzzz.

Morning snuck up quickly. I grabbed a Caramel Frappucino and a sandwich from Starbucks and headed off to…

Star Wars

Slot: Saturday, 9am Р1pm
System: Apocalypse World
My Character: Z-B3 (medical droid with a dislike of the Empire)
GM: Denys
Players: 6/6
Dice mechanic: 2d6, roll low

Z-B3 Front
Z-B3 Front
Z-B3 Back
Z-B3 Back
Apocalypse World Summary
Apocalypse World Summary











I always look forward to Denys’s games, and he certainly did not disappoint with this one. Jasmine was in this one too, so that made it even cooler. The character sheets were in a kind of tri-fold pamphlet format, and there was also a good summary sheet of the Apocalypse World system.

The game was to take place between “Episode IV – A New Hope” and “Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,” which we all thought was awesome. Then Denys began the game along the lines of, “You’re all in an Imperial detention cell aboard the Death Star. Alarm klaxons are blaring, as there seems to be some sort of Rebel attack underway…”


So we spent the first hour or so just trying to escape our cell and get the hell off the Death Star before Luke put a proton torpedo in the ol’ exhaust port and blew us all to bits. As cool as this was, it wasn’t as cool as us all finally making it to a flight deck and stealing Grand Moff Tarkin’s personal shuttle, just in case he got any funny ideas about evacuating in his moment of triumph. And as cool as that was, it wasn’t as cool as one of the PCs exclaiming, upon seeing Vader’s Advanced Tie Fighter launch with two escorts, “Screw the shuttle, I’m hopping in a Tie Fighter and going after Vader!”

From the shuttle we covered her as best we could – she wasn’t able to take Vader out, but she was able to clip his wing and send him spinning off into space (just seconds before Han and Chewie re-appeared to do the same – that’s what you get, ya slackers). After the other PCs got medals from Leia (nothing for me and the other droid PC – gotta stick with canon!), we all decided the best way to help the Alliance was to make our way to Coruscant and try to re-open the Jedi Temple.

We made it there, avoiding capture and execution, and smashed the Emperor’s plans to reopen the Temple himself for his small cadre of Dark Force-sensitive adepts.

A rollicking good time for sure, and started the second day of the con off with a bang. Grabbed some quick lunch and sauntered over to…

Shadowpunk: Bait and Switch

Slot: Saturday, 2pm Р6pm
System: Fate Core
My Character: BackSlash (young Technomancer of incredible power)
GM: Seth
Players: 3/6
Dice mechanic: 4dF, roll high

BackSlash Front
BackSlash Front
BackSlash - Back
BackSlash – Back






This was the first of three Fate Core games I got to play this weekend. I’ve really enjoyed the Fate games I’ve played at Strategicons over the past couple years, which has led me to not only include basic bennies in my GURPS games but also to look at the very concepts of game narrative and player/GM interaction a bit differently. I backed the Fate Core Kickstarter, but it was fantastic to see the system in action.

There were only three players but the GM, Seth, really ran a fun game for all of us. My character was a Technomancer, able to interface with the matrix and control machines and computers, and I had a total blast running amok as a ghost in the machine. My compatriots were an Elven thief and a Troll hitter; the world was a variant of Shadowrun.

The setup was that the three of us had been abducted and forced to perform in a sort of Running Man-esque survival game for the entertainment of the masses. Explosive collars were meant to keep us in line, but I soon mentally hacked into those and unlocked them (allowing us to use them as weapons to blow up a few hordes of pesky ghouls). The corporation then sent in The Demolisher, an executive weekend warrior in a massive power armor suit. He got off a single shot before I hacked control of the suit – I threatened to turn off his oxygen unless he came out, so as I climbed into the armor the Elf took control of the executive and the Troll commandeered the Panther Cannon.

The corporation continued to send in mutated creatures and security forces, but from the (relative) safety of the power armor I engaged in a pitched virtual battle in the matrix for control of the corp’s mainframe. Once I had it I kicked the three sys-admins out, deactivated security protocols … and transferred millions of NuYen to our private accounts. Then I just arranged for a robotic shuttle to pick the three of us up and whisk us to safety. We certainly earned some enemies, but it was a legendary hack, an epic episode of the show, and probably the most lucrative run we had ever been a part of.

Rocked. On. Toast.

Full of hacker pride, I hit the bar for some dinner and caught up with friends.

The Saturday 8pm-midnight slot was the only slot (well, excluding Monday 2pm-6pm) I didn’t schedule any games for. Instead, I enjoyed the Happy Jacks Live Podcast, which as always was a hoot. The recaps of the Friday/Saturday games reminded me how many great games the HJ crew puts on at Strategicons (seriously, too many to list! There were like a dozen in just those first two days), and it was nice to just chill out, decompress, and catch up with folks.

Crawled to my room around 11:30pm, and … did some last minute work on my game for the next morning! Never again will I put off game prep to such a last minute (he said, knowing full well he probably will).

That covers the first two days of the con, so I’ll end here and do the last two days in their own post, including my GURPS: GrimJack games. I hope everyone else had as good a time at OrcCon 2013 as I did!


  1. I always love reading your recaps of games and your thoughts on gaming in general Mook. Your genius is the way I aspire to run games if I ever manage to grow up.


  2. @Morgan: For sure! The GrimJack games were a ton of fun, I was very pleased with how they went.

    @Denys: Ooh, great write-ups at your link — makes me wish I had played in *both* Star Wars games, sounds like the other one was a hoot too!

    @JiB: Wow, thank you. I need to get over my “But I *already* play with JiB twice a month!” phobia and sign up for your games. Hear nothing but good things (and the zombie game you ran from a few cons back kicked ass).

  3. Thanks for the kind words about my game. I’m glad you liked it. The adventires of the Forsaken may continue in at future cons.

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