Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Arisia 2016 Report

Arisia is a yearly nerd convention that takes place in Boston. It basically hijacks the Westin Hotel and turns it into nerd central for a weekend. I bought a weekend pass and managed to make it so I was free from work on Friday to attend.

I promptly started Arisia off right by showing up 2 hours early for non-staff registration, followed by immediately using the ladies' room by accident. I didn't even realize which bathroom I was in until a woman walked in.

Socially awkward things aside, I played in two tabletop games at Arisia, Paranoia (Viva La Revolution) and Pathfinder (True Dragons of Absalom).

I played Paranoia first. I'd played with the same GM in 2015, and had a blast the prior year:
The back of my 2015 Character Sheet
For the record, giving me a PURGE character in any edition of Paranoia is likely a VERY bad idea. I was forced into a pair of Nuclear Pants from R&D and made them explode critically whilst standing next to a nuclear reactor- the GM looked at me shocked for a moment before stating that the entire sector went up and all our clone lines were eventually erased.

Complete TPKs in Paranoia are hard to pull off.

Anyways, for the 2016 game I was supporting Psion with no specific missions from them. The 2016 crew was far more experienced and cutthroat than the 2015 group, devolving into laser pistol shootouts almost immediately. Violence was rampant, before everyone seemed to just arbitrarily drop the attempts to kill one another while moving on with the game. Surprisingly enough though, all of us survived to the end of the game except for one particularly unlucky player. I didn't directly cause any deaths myself.

True Dragons of Absalom was... painful. The group was a mix of players of various ages, and the ~9 year old sitting next to me was one of the most annoying individuals I've ever had the displeasure of trying to play at a table with.

I'm talking singing/humming for no reason, whining about being stunned for 4 turns (every other player except one was stunned as well), shouting while other people were talking to NPCs, moving their mini across the map while making plane noises, the works.

I almost got up and left the game I found the kid so annoying. Thankfully they left about halfway through the game- not that it improved things much.

True Dragons of Absalom involves playing 4th level kobolds, and I was playing the Cleric. I hit quite a few pain points:

  • All of my spells that weren't 1-and-done (at-will, I guess) were limited to touch
  • All of my spells that weren't 1-and-done were defensive/utility
  • It was never explained that one of my limited abilities was an AoE nuke- I'd assumed that it was a single target attack and didn't try to use it until the last fight of the night
  • There was a trap building segment where me and another player both had roughly a 40% chance of success, and the GM suggested one of us using Aid Another to give the other a +1- a flat 5% increase of the chance to succeed. In GURPS, +1 (especially when talking skill levels 8-12) is a much bigger deal than just 5%. (Also, I'd totally take two chances at 40% to get 1 success than one chance at 45%.)
  • Have I mentioned that Pathfinder's magic system is stupid?
  • What's the point of having a 'Destructive Smite' option that boosts melee damage by +2 when my melee damage is 1d3-1 to fucking begin with?
  • Why the hell are magic wands limited to touch? HAVEN'T YOU PLAYED NETHACK?
  • I never used some of my cooler spell options because of the limited use nature of them- what if I need that invisibility spell later? (Speaking of which, invisibility is so weaksauce when a single attack breaks it)
  • Attacks of opportunity are stupid. I understand this is an attempt to make movement important on a tactical level, but it's clunky clunky clunky.
  • No active defenses just seems -wrong- after playing GURPS. Not that I personally was ever attacked or damaged the entire game.
  • The bard was the only character with any useful knowledge skills turning them into the exposition fairy
Overall, True Dragons of Absalom has turned me off of Pathfinder/D20 systems for a lot of the reasons that I strongly prefer GURPS.

I also played a good amount of Smash 4- including getting my ass whuped in a small singles tournament. There was one game of Betrayal at the House on the Hill handily won by the non-traitors that I played in.

I also saw two parts (the third hasn't been produced for stage- yet) of Mrs Hawking, which was excellent. I may be biased as one of my friends played a leading role. Totally not biased or convinced she should use the accent at all times.

Oh, I played one game of Roll for the Galaxy, which was... okay. The guys I were playing with weren't the best at explaining how the game was played, and there was more confusion than I would have liked. I eventually ended up hoarding the rule book for myself to understand what was going on- like any true GM.

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