Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reapercon 2013

For my birthday, I took a trip to Denton, Texas to visit the offices and gaming store for Reaper Miniatures.  Denton is the backyard for GM Dave and GM Chris, hosts of the Order 66 Podcast.  For the past few years, D20 Radio has flooded that convention running games and having a grand time with the folks from Reaper.  Many listeners as well as the folks from Chris's various Star Wars games have some to Reaper and made it a sort of unofficial "D20 Radio Con".

At Celebration VI this past year, I got to hang with Chris Bradshaw (a.k.a.GM Chance) from D20 Radio.  We got him and his Republic Commando spot-approvals so he could be in the big photo-shoot with the 501st Legion.  While talking about various other conventions, and he invited me out to Denton for Reapercon.  I'd wanted to go since I heard about it when I first started listening to the network, and figured it would be a cheaper con to see the D20 Radio folks at than going to GenCon, so the plan started.

Around about November another plan was put in motion too, but I'll go into that later.

At the Airport

I left on my birthday; Thursday, April 18.  Getting off the Logan express shuttle with my suitcase, computer backpack, and duffel bag.  The suitcase got checked, which contained clothing for 5 days and my Jedi Knight outfit.  Also crammed in there is my 24" short-blade for my lightsaber.  The lightsaber itself was in the duffel bag; I didn't trust it going through checked baggage screening and it not getting damaged by TSA agents.  This was 3 days after the Boston Marathon bombings; if I'm a TSA agent and I see a bag go by with a metal cylinder with wires in it, I'm going to search that bag.  Now I've got some TSA agent showing all his buddies the lightsaber he found in some nerd's suitcase, and blinding his buddies with the high-power blade-LED because they don't understand how bright Rebel Star LEDs can be.

So I've got it in my duffel and I get up to the first person at Security; the woman who checks boarding passes and licenses.  I let her know I'm a Star Wars costumer, on my way to a gaming convention in Texas, and I have a replica lightsaber in my bag and want to declare it.  Explaining that it's a 16" long metal tube, she gets an odd look of "that could be used as a weapon" across her face.  I suppose it could be, because that's exactly what I want to do with my custom and very expensive lightsaber prop; bludgeon some stewardess and try to take over an AirBus A320 with it.  Maybe I could blind the pilot when he looks through that peephole on the cockpit door.

She asks me to place it in the bin on the conveyor, and tell the next TSA agent about it.  They might want me to check it with my luggage. I shrug, and I get to the next guy, an older gentleman with a blue-collar look about him (a little rugged, a little surly, but mostly business).  I let him know about the lightsaber, and my travel plans.  He looks at it, ponders for a moment, and then says the Supervisor should probably take a look at it.  I head through the body-scan machine, and the supervisor comes over.

The supervisor looked about my age, and heads over to the x-ray viewer for the conveyor.  I can tell exactly when my tray passes by when his eyebrows pop up and he get's a small smirk on his face.  The tray comes out, and he asks me to get my other belongings and come over to him when I'm done.  "Take your time!" he says.  He heads to a test counter, and I get my stuff and go over to him.  By then three other TSA guys are standing there and a fourth is called over "Dude, you're gonna love this, get over here."  After a brief period of several exclamations of "DOOD!" and "Sweet!", the quick demonstration of the lights and sounds of my saber, and the cursory confirmation that there are no explosives in it, I'm allowed to move on with the saber in my carry-on.

Out of Service (i.e. "Broken Plane")

My flight was supposed to leave at 1:05.  The plan was to arrive at 4:30, get a quick bite, and head right to Reaper to play in a Star Wars game run by GM Chris.  At noon, we were informed our flight was delayed.  At 1pm, we were told that our original plane was taken "Out of Service" and a new plane was on it's way from Orlando.  It wasn't going to arrive until 2:45.  Figure at least a half hour for it to deplane, load up our luggage and passengers, and get moving.

Even the President is delaying my departure...

Oh...and we had the announcer come on, asking for someone to please claim a black backpack that was left at the counter.  THAT request got everyones attention.  Thankfully, a nice lady did.  Swiftly.

I got to Dallas at 7ish.  Went right to GM Chance's place and got settled in.  GM Chris, his wife Krista, and GM Dave showed up soon after and started pulling out Edge of the Empire books.  I ended my birthday hanging with the folks from D20 Radio, playing Star Wars.

Gotta admit, only one way the day could have ended better, but sadly the wife was at home...

At the Con

The non-Star Wars game I played: Warlords In Wonderland

I have to say if you're looking for a great little gaming convention to go to, Reapercon 2013 is it.  I've been to some of the bigger conventions, like Origins, many times.  Reapercon is a fun little con of a few hundred attendees, and has a real family feel to it.  It helps that a good number of D20 Radio folks are there so it feels like you're coming home to old friends.

I got to play GM Chris's new Convention Module Series, Enemy of my Enemy.  It's actually available for download on the D20 Radio website.  Any of my PCs who want to play it should probably stay away, but for folks who want to run it go and give it a read.  Maps used are available from Chris West's Maps of Mastery site, or you can use a white board to reproduce or your imagination.  I do like Chris West's maps, tho.  They're pretty.

GM Chris runs a mean game, and has a snazzy hat!

As a review, Enemy of my Enemy is a wonderful tale of mystery, adventure, and difficult moral choices.  Don't worry if your character doesn't have a skillset for combat (assuming you use the pre-gen characters).  Look at what you're good at, then look at the environment to see how you can contribute to the encounter.  You get XP for survival, not for opponents defeated.  I got to play Tyrix the Gand, who had disgraced himself in the eyes of his society so he only referred to himself as "Gand" (it's established Star Wars canon; look it up).  A tech and slicing god, I was searching for computer terminals and machines to play with in every situation.

Reapercon 2013 represents the first time I've been able to play in an Edge of the Empire game.  It's also the first time I've been able to play in a Star Wars game since my brother failed to finish his Dawn of Defiance* module series.  It's funny, I found myself willing to skip right into danger, and where I thought the Game Master expected the module to go.  Maybe I've spent too many years as one myself.  I got a sense of where we needed to go to continue the adventure.  I could see some players at the table really getting into the persona they perceived for their character to have, but I found myself looking at the game going "what actions move the plot along" and trying to figure out how to get there.  Maybe that hurt my character's role playing, but it kept the game moving.

* - totally taking shots at my brother for that; he earned it...

Friends of the Legions

Back at Celebration VI, I met Chris Bradshaw from the D20 Radio network and became fast friends.  We made idle plans for me to come out to Reapercon the next year (because GenCon was likely off the table).  Sometime around October I was on the D20 Radio forums, and saw Zrissa's post about Jon Stevens being inducted to the Rebel Legion as a Friend of the Legion.  Jon wrote material for two of the Saga Edition books.  Thinking things over, I looked at all the work GM Chris and GM Dave have done with the Order 66 podcast, and how the Gamer Nation really flourished under their banner.  Checking the Legion rosters, other podcasts have been inducted as Friends of the Legion (since Chris and Dave haven't worked directly on a Star Wars product, they would be eligible as "Friends of" not "Honorary Members"). 

A plan was put in motion.  A petition was sent to the Command Staff of the Rebel Legion, and to the 501st Legion founder Albin Johnson to approve the induction of Chris and Dave into the Legions.  The requests were approved, and the plans for the ceremony were put into motion.  While GenCon might be a large venue for an induction, I was going to be at Reapercon.  Bradshaw would be there, so there would at least be one other member of the Legion(s) in attendance.

There was a period of nail-biting after I booked my airfare and con ticket that Dave wasn't going to be at Reapercon this year.  Thankfully, the trip he was planning was delayed a month and he would be in attendance. 

After several days of hanging with the Boys and the other folks from D20 Radio, Bradshaw and
I surprised Chris and Dave mid-live-broadcast by excusing ourselves and returning a while later in full costume, presenting the induction awards to them live on the air.  Sadly, JustinTV has since dropped the visual recording (possibly to return in 14 months) and the audio from the episode was a little tough to listen to .  It's one of the many hazards of recording with a different computer, like a laptop; it likes to be "helpful" when you plug in cameras and records off the camera mic instead of the 4 good-quality microphones.

Transparent Plaque Fail
At any rate, mission accomplished, GMs humbled and giddy all at once, and forever supported by the 501st and Rebel Legions.


Given the time and opportunity (and funds), I will return to Reapercon sometime in the future.  Maybe not next year, maybe not the year after, but soon.  I'll bring a game to run, or run one of Chris's modules.  And it will be awesome, because I'll be hanging out with friends from D20 Radio and Gamer Nation.

Next week, I'm thinking of returning to the subject of gaming.  Star Wars Gaming.  I think I've got an interesting exercise ahead of me and need to get it going.

Until then, be safe everyone.

Chillin' at Reaper, 2013

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