Strategicon OrcCon 2013 – Part 2

This is the second part of my OrcCon 2013 recap, covering the games I enjoyed and ran on Sunday and Monday. Part one is here, covering Friday and Saturday.

The first two days of the convention were totally fun, but I was a wee bit anxious Sunday morning as it was the first slot I was GMing. Players always seem to have a blast, and I always love GMing, but I’ve never managed to quite shake that irrational fear of, “Oh no! I’m gonna completely tank this game, ruin the convention for six people, and cause at least one of them to swear off gaming forever!” Nonetheless, I manned up and headed to my table…

Cynosure Romp: The Rescue of GrimJack

Slot: Sunday, 9am – 1pm
System: GURPS
GM: Me!
Players: 6/6
Dice mechanic: 3d6, roll low

It was early, I think around 8:30 am, but I like to be first to the table (much easier for morning slots!), and while setting up I can be a bit … fastidious. So I got everything just the way I wanted before the first players wandered over.

I plan to write a much more detailed post of what went into prepping the game, but for now here’s a quick summary of the finished table-stuff:

Cynosure Game Prep
Cynosure Game Prep

From the top down we have:

  • Landscape, four-panel GM screen with about 50 of the more common races in the city of Cynosure (and one panel of GrimJack)
  • 8 pre-gen characters (including 8 stand-ups to place in front of the players, 8 tri-fold paper minis for the map, and two copies of the character packets)
  • 16 “goody bags” for the players, each with 2-3 issues of the original GrimJack comic and a Munchkin Bookmark from Steve Jackson Games (I’m a MIB)
  • 16 bound and printed copies of GURPS Lite, for those who want to know more about the system

It quickly became clear to me in that final week before the con that, even with taking Thursday night off of work (I work graveyard shift), I wasn’t going to be able to finish all of the prep I wanted to. So I concentrated on all the printing and paper-craft stuff, and left the actual game notes to be done at the con with a good old-fashioned pen and legal pad. I don’t recommend it! But it ended up working out fine, particularly since A) I had a solid grasp of what I wanted to present as a story already in my head, it just wasn’t written down; and B) I’m familiar enough with both the setting and GURPS that I was easily able to wing anything I hadn’t already prepped.

I had a full table, almost entirely from the Happy Jacks community: Stork, Patrick, Kristel, William, his buddy Asad, and my friend Jasmine. Everyone picked a character and off we went. The crux of the game was that GrimJack–a mercenary they all owed favors to–was kidnapped, his bar (their regular hangout) trashed, and his friends killed or beaten. They slew, investigated, and intimidated their way through the city to discover that he had been kidnapped by a small cult attempting to summon some giant dark “god” from another dimension. GrimJack was to be the sacrificial “heart of a true warrior” they needed to keep the beast bound by the spell.

They did break up the ritual before GrimJack was killed (Stork put an arrow directly into the cult leader’s eye for a massive amount of damage), but unfortunately not before the giant creature was actually summoned and, now, completely out of control. It was an epic battle, and they emerged victorious (with special thanks to Patrick’s mega-lightning bolt which I’m pretty sure did almost-triple-digit damage). No character deaths, only a few injuries, and they could now drink at Munden’s free of charge for the rest of their lives.

It seemed like it went really well – everyone said they had a great time, and I love-love-loved running it. I let them paw through the comic book goody bags, we made our farewells, and then it was off for a super-quick lunch before heading to…

Shadowpunk: Stand and Deliver

Slot: Sunday, 2pm – 6pm
System: Fate Core
My Character: Trigger (trigger-happy Ork pistoleer)
GM: Seth
Players: 6/6
Dice mechanic: 4dF, roll high

Trigger - Ork ganger
Trigger – Ork ganger









This was my second Fate Core game of the con, run by the same GM (Seth) as my first the day before. This time the table was full. We were members of an Ork gang participating in another live broadcast game. This time we were competing against six other gangs: The Banshees (dangerous Elf women), The Presidents (humans wearing masks of old presidents), Killer Bozos (psychotic clowns), N.W.O. (the “humans only!” skinheads), The Lumberjacks (axe-wielding Dwarves dressed as lumberjacks), and The Wreckers (massive trolls with ball-and-chain weapons). The goal was to be the first team to take the shiny silver football from the starting zone to the top of a nearby parking garage … aaand, GO!

We had a wonderful time rampaging our way through the chaos and insanity that quickly engulfed the zone. The Killer Bozos released Fear gas into the mix, while The Banshees allied with us thanks to our charismatic “face Ork.” Because of the total bedlam the battlefield turned into there ended up being too much downtime between turns, but it certainly wasn’t enough to dampen our enthusiasm for running rough-shod over our competitors. An epic brawl! Our team technically won – though it turned out the competition was actually just a ruse to get the gangs together so the corporation could blow them to pieces and redevelop the real estate.

Damn dirty corps.

Started wearing down by this point, but had a truly wonderful dinner in the bar with friends, then meandered my way up to…

F2: Descent Into the Hidden Tower of the Silver Demonweb at Dunwater

Slot: Sunday, 8pm – midnight
System: Fate Core
My Character: Gellis (Elven magic-user)
GM: Mike
Players: 5/4
Dice mechanic: 4dF, roll high










This was such a fantastic game to cap off the last night: Fate Core old-school D&D, run by the most-awesome Mike, with Rob, Gina, JiB, and Jasmine as players. Perfect!

We were investigating strange goings-on, as adventurers are wont to do, which led us to a teleportation gate, an entire town of the undead, and ultimately a Yuan-Ti sorceror pulling the strings. I managed to get my poor character, Gellis, “taken out” at the final battle, but I blame that on the fact that I was occasionally nodding off. I absolutely loathe when this happens, and feel like a complete tool – it is so (unintentionally, of course!) disrespectful to the group, but everyone was very understanding.

This was after drinking two full cans of Monster in about three hours, mind you. It only seems to happen during the 8pm – midnight slots, but I just can’t bring myself to lose two full slots when there’s only a potential for eight over the entire weekend.

I did love the game, though. Mike is so incredibly laid back and conversational as a GM, the whole game just felt like shooting the breeze around a campfire. And as my third of three Fate Core games, it cemented my admiration of the system and made me look forward to the dead-tree release even more!

Finally crawled into bed a bit after midnight and totally passed out.

Which brings us, sadly, to the final game of the con…

Cynosure Romp: The Rescue of GrimJack

Slot: Monday, 9am – 1pm
System: GURPS
GM: Me!
Players: 6/6
Dice mechanic: 3d6, roll low

Tired but enthusiastic, I think I got to my table even earlier this time, Carmel Frappuccino and cheese danish in hand.

I actually kind of liked running games in the morning slots — the only downside was that I would have really liked to hear some player feedback, but the Happy Jacks live podcast was Saturday night. I decided to run on Sunday and Monday so I wouldn’t be one more competitor for those precious few “first five” slots of the con, but I do like getting critiques and suggestions on what to improve (yes, this is a thinly veiled hint – please tell me how to make my games better! 🙂 )

Players began arriving, and I was pleased to see so many familiar faces and a couple of new ones: JiB, Hannah, Phil, Oscar, Thomas, and John. Oscar really started me off in great spirits when he walked into the room, looked at the characters’ folders, stand-ups, and minis, and audibly gasped as he stood frozen in admiration. John explained that they had played a game the night before with slapped-together pre-gens and had railed against it in conversation afterwards — the sight of my table was just what the doctor ordered.

The game began the exact same way, the gunshot from the bar, but then of course instantly veered in a different direction. They did hit many of the same leads, though from different directions, and also successfully rescued GrimJack from those damned crazy cultists. There was great role-play, laughter, sword fights, firefights with lasers and slugs, and the disgorging of corrosive bio-chemical globs (um…in-game). I think everyone had a blast (I sure did!), and it was a perfect end to the con. I think I might stick with Monday morning games, it’s a great send-off.

All in all, OrcCon 2013 was a great, great time. Played six awesome games, ran a couple, got to hang out with a ton of fun people, and really got my geek on. I loved it!

One quick thing – I know there’s only two more Strategicons at the Sheraton before they move to the Hilton in 2014, but make sure you always check your hotel bill for a $20 “Rollaway bed or refrigerator” charge! When checking out, the woman at the desk asked me if I’d like a printed bill or to have it emailed to me. I said, “Printed, please, because literally every time I’ve stayed here I get an unjustified $20 charge for a ‘Rollaway bed or refrigerator'” (which is true) … and she said, “I’ll just go ahead and take that off for you.”

What the hell? And sure enough, when I got the print-out, it contained that $20 charge, with a -$20 “adjustment/refund” at the bottom. So – check your bill.

Still, that doesn’t change the fact that OrcCon 2013 rocked, and rocked hard. As always, I’m already looking forward to the next one!


  1. Sounds like fun! I’m disappointed that I missed the GrimJack game — I overslept on Monday morning! (My alarm did not go off. 🙁 )

  2. I don’t hold your nodding-off against you, Mook. Sunday night’s the culmination of two long days of gaming and late nights for most people. It happens. I enjoyed having you in the game nonetheless! Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Yeah, the hell with Gellis! Lol – it was one of my faves too. I particularly liked the way you tweaked Fate Core to handle the old-school spells, smooth and easy.

    Hope you’ll be running at Gamex! Was a big fan of the Atomic Robo game at Gateway – when I saw you were running two Fate Core games at OrcCon, I was psyched 🙂 Tried to pre-reg for F1, but it filled in like 0.7 seconds — glad I made it into F2!

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