Sunday, February 28, 2010

OwlCon XXIX Recap

It's not often enough that we're able to get out of our regularly scheduled lives and game for a few days straight. But it was time!

Last weekend, we attended OwlCon at Rice University, a handsome campus smack in the middle of Houston. Since we could stay at a hotel just a few blocks away, we could walk to the con itself, which this time of the year is brisk but enjoyable.

Adam spent the weekend at the RPGA tables, which were well-run, complete with an organizer taking orders for food, which was then delivered at your table so you could keep gaming. Very enabling of our addictions...

And very well run. Their adventures take part in the Forgotten Realms, which allows players to come in knowing much of the world, helping to paint the scene for easier role playing. I have to admit I don't know enough about FR, so I'll need to pick up a book and do some background reading before my next con. That way I'll know where Aldric is from and where he's been. Seems like harmless enough homework...

I spent Friday and Sunday at the RPGA tables playing the same adventures, and Saturday I played board games. It's hard to find the groups to play Advanced Civ and Rail Baron since people are rightfully daunted by these classic Avalon Hill titles and their many complex dynamics. But at my last two cons, I've seen these listed, and simply had to play. When it all shook down, as Asia I came in second in Civ (Egypt taught us all a lesson in economics) and as Minneapolis-based "white player" came in third in Rail Baron (first time playing; I'm clearly not a optimal capitalist).

We learned on Saturday night (in the last game of the night) that Battletech pods are fun as hell! Providing a hands-on 'Mech pilot experience, they confounded me, but Adam racked up tons of points. I did have fun jumping all over the map and firing missiles at long range toward every 'Mech I could track down. Good times, and a desire I've had since middle school fulfilled.

Our final game on Friday was run by a great DM who embodied many of the traits of other favorite con DMs -- he controlled the action, telling an engaging story, didn't read any of the mechanics aloud, occupied the long end of the table, stood for much of the session, and used traps, hazards and classic DM trickery to get us to fall into them. We learned a lot from his presentation. So, Phil of the Houston RPGA, this post is for you.

All in all, a very well-organized con, especially one hosted by a university. Good people, DMs, and miniature dungeons and battlescapes. Adam got a few photos of the scapes, but I put it off too long...

Late night diner runs led us to 59 Diner, a friendly joint with tasty greek salads. Try 'em the next time you're in downtown Houston.

Finally, on our way out of town, we dropped by some old friends' place for some home cooked lasagna and caught up. A great weekend! Looking forward to next year's.

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