39 years ago I helped start LepreCon, the first sfnal Con in Arizona. At least if anything else preceeded it, my friends and I had never heard of it, though we knew about cons in California and back east. Since then the number of cons has increased tremendously, and it reached a point where cons weren’t just for science fiction any more–they spread out into all sorts of related fields, like Gaming.
It all blurs together after a while, but I don’t remember going to any gaming specific cons before the 1990s. However, once the idea caught on, it became quite popular. This year, I have attended three Gaming Cons here in Arizona–VulCon I, Conflagration 1, and RinCon 2012. In addition, I have spent most of my con time gaming at DarkCon, LepreCon, ComiCon, and CopperCon. And those were just the cons in Arizona, which I tend to attend because they are close and don’t cost me much money. Out of state I went to Origins, OSRcon, and GenCon. And I’m planning on LaughingMoonCon on Oct. 20. That makes 8 weekends minimum spent at conventions, mostly gaming–slightly more than 1/5th of the year’s weekends up to my neck in cards and dice mostly.
Last week, Sept 28-30. I was in South Tucson for RinCon 2012. This southern Arizona convention is about 5 years old now, and I have attended it once before. This year the Con committee made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (a hotel room for my stay at the con–I’m easy, folks, you can have me for as little as a place to stay while at the con (grin)). My son and I went to the Con. I played Tunnels & Trolls twice, and a few other games. I was on two interesting panels with John Wick and Mark Truman who were the other major frp people at the con. We talked about such things as GM technique, things to keep in mind if you want to create your own frp game, and how the sport of role-playing has developed and is likely to continue developing.
I took my little camera along and took a few pictures, which I will now share with you. They don’t really make a story this time, but it should give you an idea of what it was like.
There was plenty of function space at the Airport Holiday Inn in South Tucson. About half of the gaming took place in this large hall. The dealers have an area down at the far end.
I broke a rule, and actually played That Other Game. Jim McKenzie, the big guy on the left ran Pathfinder for most of the weekend, and I sat in on a game Friday afternoon as a wizard. Had to leave after about an hour of play, and I got back just in time for the grand finale. My wizard wasn’t missed, and got to throw one magic missile in the whole game.
Although you will find I prefer my own Tunnels and Trolls to all other frp systems, I am willing to play other games from time to time. Really, it isn’t the system that matters. It’s the role-playing that counts and having a good time with others.
That evening, Jamie, the cutie on the right taught my son James, the blurry fellow on the left, and me how to play the World of Warcraft CCG. James won–twice. I prefer Magic ™, but if one were a WoW player (and I’m not), I could see how one might grow fond of this game.
James Ernest was the Guest of Honor at RinCon. James is an amazingly smart game designer of mostly board games, but he could do anything. We know each other, but don’t mingle that much. Here he is having breakfast at the hotel buffet on Saturday morning. Bacon, eggs, and orange juice–yum!
The major Event of the convention was a GM conference on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. 5 game designers including me down front and 20 to 30 people in the audience at various times.
Audience, right side, Matthew Nielson down in front.
Audience, left side.
John Wick sat to the right of me. John pretty much dominates any panel he is on.
John said he had designed 10 rpgs this year already. I said, big deal, designing them isn’t so hard. Getting them published and out to the gamers in an attractive format is the hard thing. John amended his statement to say he had published 10 rpgs already this year.
Mark Truman sat to the left of me on the panel. Mark is a game designer on the rise.
You won’t see any pictures of me at this Con, at least none that I own. I was always pretty much at the center of the action and looking out admiring the great works of other people.
RinCon pays its GMs in RinCoins–tokens that dealers have agreed to take as part of the purchase price of games. Alas, I spent my RinCoins buying more Magic.
This BEN HVRT (clever play on Roman letters and a movie title) looked like a lot of fun. It represents all the great games I saw at RinCon but never got the actual chance to play.
After 2.5 days of gaming goodness, RinCon came to an end on Sunday afternoon. While I was there I participated in a Pathfinder game, 2 Tunnels and Trolls sessions, a Settlers of Catan game, several rounds of Magic with my son, a WoW demo, a game of Gloom with my son, and a long session of Legacy the other t & t game (time travel and technology). It was a good weekend for gaming.
If you were at RinCon, or some other gaming convention recently, why not leave a comment and mention your exploits there?
I invent games. It’s no great talent. Anyone can do it, but most people don’t. Most people are content to play the games that others make. Me, on the other hand, I see possibilities for games everywhere–I can make them out of anything, or nothing.
I want to share with you all a little game that I made a few months ago while I was waiting for my son to get back in street clothes and come out and join me after his performance in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I had a couple of 20-sided dice in my pocket–yes, I usually do walk around with dice in my pocket–so I invented a simple game of who can roll the highest number.
Such dice games go way back to the beginning of time. The Romans used 3 6-sided dice with pips on them the same way we do today, and it was simply who rolls the highest number. Three sixes was called the Venus throw, and it won automatically. I wonder if 3 ones were called the Inferno throw.
So here are the rules for Double Dodecahedron–my gift to everyone who simply likes to roll dice. Play it and improve your skills in addition and calculation.
Equipment needed: 2 20-sided dice numbered 1 to 20. Your brains and memory.
Object of the game: Roll the highest total to win.
Rules: Roll 2 20-sided dice and total them. Example one die rolls a 17, the other a 4, the total is 21. If the player rolls the same number on both dice or consecutive numbers on both dice, he totals them and rolls again. Example: I roll a 16 on one die and a 17 on the other. The total is 33. Then I roll the dice again and get a 2 on one die and a 2 on the other for a total of 4. 33 + 4 = 37. Then I roll them again. This time I get a 5 on one die and a 20 on the other for a total of 25. 37 + 25 = 62. That is a very good roll and probably wins the game for me.
Each player has 3 chances to beat the previous high total. Using the example above let us say the first player was my son Corencio, and I was the second player. He rolled a 21. Then he gave the dice to me. I got really lucky and rolled a 62. Then I hand the dice to you. On the first roll you got a 3 and an 18–fails. On the second roll you got a 14 and a 16–total is 30–a good roll, but still it doesn’t beat my 62. On the third roll you roll 20 and 20 for a total of 40 and then you roll 20 and 7 for another 27. 40 + 27 = 67. You are winning.
Then Corencio has another 3 chances to beat you. And I get 3 more chances. Let us say that neither of us can beat a 67. You win!
Simple, right? But surprisingly fun. This game depends on pure luck, but some people seem to win more often than others. Is it a flick of the wrist when rolling the dice? Subtle telekinesis in controlling which faces come up? Or just pure luck? I believe in Luck. One of the rules I live by is that IT IS BETTER TO BE LUCKY THAN GOOD. Of course, if you are both lucky and good (like I am–grin) that is better still.
Double Dodecahedrons can easily be turned into a gambling game. You could bet a fixed amount of money on each round of play. Let’s say you have 3 players and each puts $1.00 in the pot. The winner makes a net profit of $2 on the round. Or, let’s say you have the old coin jar handy. Each player contributes a penny for each point on the dice. If you roll the dice and get a 3 and a 5, you would put 8 cents in the pot. The next person would roll and get perhaps a 20 and a 15 and put 35 cents in the pot. A third person rolls a 17 and a 2 on the first try and puts 19 cents in the pot–that doesn’t win. He can roll again. Let’s say he rolls a second time and gets 7 and an 8. 15 doesn’t win, but it does get to add and roll again. He puts 15 cents in the pot. Then he rolls a 20 and a 4. He puts 24 cents in the pot and his total is 39. That is high enough to take the lead so he passes the dice. Using just a penny a point and several players, this game could get very exciting very quickly.
So, put some 20-siders in your pocket, gamers. I know you own the dice. And next time you have some time to kill, get them out and play Double Dodecahedrons. It’s fun, and the time goes by very quickly when you’re gaming and having fun.
If you ever play dice games, or make games up on the spot, leave a comment, ok?