Tuesday, March 14, 2023

BASH Con 2023: Many Paths and Errands Meet

I went back to BASHCon this year, after couple of years away. I might have gone last year, if I had known it was happening before it was almost over. 

Tom and I left Indianapolis Friday afternoon and, despite some car trouble, made it to Toledo in time for Jerry's D&D game. Once we got into our room, though, we looked out at the sideways thunder-snow and suggested putting it off. Jerry ended up running it for some peeps at his house, instead. We ordered pizza and salads and stayed in.

On Saturday we got registered for the con. It was probably the fastest it's ever been, but we found out later that this was because nobody was there, because somebody thought it would be a good idea to schedule the event for UT's spring break. Didn't much matter, though, because we weren't relying on con guests for players.  

We got some coffee and our crew (sadly, minus both Cory and Paul, who couldn't make it this year) trickled in. The first game on the convention grounds was Tom's Crawlspace scenario, Florida Man II: Sinkhole. I played a water department worker who Tom described as a cross between Ellen DeGeneres and Kramer from Seinfeld. I had a lot of fun with that, turning every statement into a breathless declaration of impending doom with names like "Level 5 Aquatic Eruption Event," acting like my job at the water department gave me some kind of emergency authority, and trying to get the National Guard called in. I guess it was a lot more Kramer than Ellen. The scenario itself was more comedy than horror, but that was more our doing than Tom's.

I asked Jerry for the file for his cool Crawlspace character card and he did me several steps better by bringing a stack of them printed on cardstock and already cut to size. 
Tom and I hung out with Liam and had lunch at Phoenicia while Jerry ran some errands. I picked up a new dice bag with Smaug and the Lonely Mountain embroidered on it. There wasn't much in the dealers' nook. Craft stuff, dice, and a few board games. That was about it. 
My adventure started in Bree. I love Bree. One thing that's different in this edition of The One Ring is that the default focus is on Eriador, which was always more interesting to me, instead of Wilderland. After a little roleplaying, the party was headed off to Sarn Ford to investigate a dead horse and some unusually bitey brigands. 

One thing I wanted to do with this session was try out the Journey mechanics. I thought they worked well, although I was a little too distracted by my own unfamiliarity to come up with good scenes as the rolls came up. There was a decent ruffian encounter mixed in with my fairly obvious omens. Liam's character killed one of the ruffians in cold blood after the fight was over, earning himself a Shadow point. Murder-hoboing is not encouraged in this game.

At one point, I came back from refilling my water bottle to find everyone taking turns saying this one name to each other, then to me. I thought maybe I had had a stroke and could no longer process language, but it turned out they were trying to remember an NPC.

They found some undead things and tracked them back to their lair, where apparently an orc was running things. After they had killed the orc and were digging through the hoard, a voice from somewhere in the cave started talking to them. It turned out to be a human-sized bat creature, a vampire, hanging from the ceiling. I picked this particular creature because of Tom, who likes to make fun of the story in The Silmarillion where Sauron turns into a vampire. She nearly killed them all, but Jerry's dwarf finished her off before she could. Maybe Tom learned to respect vampires a little more. Yeah, I know; probably not.  
I thought it went well, overall. Back when they came out with the 5e D&D version, I had been a little disappointed. I went in thinking it would have the familiarity of D&D with a bit of customization to make it fit Middle Earth, with both aspects stripped down a little to make the combination manageable. This was probably an unrealistic expectation. The D&D adaptation turned out to have all the complexities of D&D with new subsystems from The One Ring (previous edition, which I think is mostly the same as the current one) kludged on top, resulting in a pile of homework that I still get tired just thinking about.

The One Ring is a really elegant system. I love the way all the different pieces interlock without getting too complicated. I love that there's a simple, logical, rules-based reason you don't see a lot of people clanking around the wilderness in full armor. I wasn't sure about the Journey rules at first, but I'm sold. I feel like it really captures the tone of Middle Earth. The black & white art is good. The color art is dark and smudgy and just not much fun, but mileage variance and all that. The book is solidly put together and, a rarity in the age of Kickstarter, not absurdly bloated. It's not petite by any means, but it's more manageable than most of them.

I could actually see myself coming back to running video-chat games with this one. Jerry ordered a copy of the game, so there's another incentive. 

Everybody got together for a late night dinner and there was much rejoicing. On Sunday, Max ran a 5e D&D game set in an alternate history post-Civil War America with magic and stuff, which was fun. I love it when I get to solve a mystery. After that it was off to El Vaquero for the victory lunch and then the ride home.

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  1. Wow. REALLY sorry I missed this, but reality intervened. I may have to check out "The One Ring". It doesn't hurt that I am currently re-reading LotR for the first time in nearly 40 years (my lifetime tally is in the upper teens, but it has been a LONG time...)

    1. You were missed. I think I've only read the whole thing three times, but I've started it several more.