HelgaCon VI - Overview

A week ago, I got back from our historical gaming crew's (now people pretty far-flung indeed) annual mini-gaming convention in Massachusetts. We rent a house by the sea, pile in about 20 people, and bunker down for games of skill, luck, roleplaying, giant digital presentations, and ridiculous props. It's one of the highlights of my year, and it's really great to get back in touch with people I see far too rarely. And also meet some fresh faces who are new to RPG's, and get to see how they interact with the play, which is always fascinating.

Overview of the weekend: On Friday, I hitch a ride from New York to Massachusetts via Paul's brother Max. I'm carrying just a light bag, because we decided to not repeat my Book of War tournament which I ran the last few years (and thus I don't have to take crates full of miniatures with me). I almost always fall asleep in-transit, so travel seems short to me. We start the games Friday night: I'm in Paul's “Back to Basics” D&D game with four other players, a very nice dungeon crawl with the much-celebrated Moldvay Basic D&D book on the table. This was using a dungeon map by Dyson Logos (link), with stocking by Paul, and something he's run other players through – which left behind lots of destroyed scenery, dead adventurer bodies, and burned monsters for us to encounter along the way. We had one very hairy encounter, in a dead-end shrine area, where taking a treasure tripped an alarm and something like 20 zombies and ghouls came storming up the stairs at our group of 3rd-level adventurers. Fortunately, good team tactics and a flurry of spells, turning, and flaming oil turned the tide, and we escaped without any losses.

Saturday morning our friend BJ (website) ran an extravagantly-prepared adventure called “Voyage of the Star Condor”; in the afternoon I ran a classic-D&D session of AD&D Module D1: “Descent Into the Depths of the Earth”; and the evening session was another of our annual sessions of BJ's Arabian-themed “Thousand Year Sandglass” campaign. Sunday morning I ran a Star Frontiers adventure that I recently wrote (since I seem to have that on the brain as of late), “Asteroid 0X57”. Then we cleaned up, took a group photo, and said our goodbyes – the weekend seemed far too short. (These other games I'll plan to write some blogs on their own about.)

Side Note 1: Paul (of “Paul's Blog” fame) organizes the gathering every year, including finding and renting a place, creating a schedule for game submissions and sign-ups, chasing after late entries, organizing a cooperative cooking schedule, running games, running for groceries, cleaning the place up, etc. He also has a custom-made scheduling program that takes every attendee's preferences for the 14 games over the weekend, and spits out the best possible sequence and player participation for all of the games (something that other conventions should do if they were smart). I really don't know how he does it, on top of trying to sell a house, settling into a new job in the last year, and also gearing up a new indie video game on the side. So huge kudos to Paul. (You should check out the trailer for his new, very old-school-influenced game that he's working on: Road of Kings.)

Side Note 2: The last few months have been busy for me too, starting a new school semester, having a long visit with family, and preparing myself for HelgaCon. I'm hopeful (as usual) that I'll have more time for writing, blogging, gaming, and getting in touch with people in the near future.

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