Friday, May 4, 2012

JiffyCon Game Day 2012


I went to a small game day at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA last weekend.  Jiffy Con is a small event that focuses on indie story games.  The Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts has a concentration of indie story game designers and publishers.  They get together a few times a year to put on a mini convention.

The event was held in the upstairs gaming space at Modern Myths.  Modern Myths, is in my opinion, the best shop in area for RPGs.  We have a number of game shops in the area and each carries most categories of games.  Each one seems to specialize in a particular genre of games.  Modern Myths is the best one for RPGs carrying all the most popular games and a wide variety of indie games.  I have picked up a lot of out of print games and modules at reasonable prices and in good condition.  Modern Myths is also the best comic shop in the area.

I decided that what an indie game convention needed was a retro-clone so I signed up to GM. I ran a Swords and Wizardry hex crawl with a few dungeons as possible encounters thrown in.  Having never been to any of the Jiffy Con events, I was somewhat unsure how something like that would go over.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that several people I talked to at the con were familiar with what was going on with old school gaming and several had played Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying.  I did get to GM for a group that was made up mostly of people who never played D&D or any of its variants.

There were three little girls that came to the event.  My game was the only one which was child friendly at all so they signed up for my game.  I'm a stay at home dad and participate in various programs at the school my daughter goes to.  I'm used to working with children so it wasn't too hard to adjust my plans.  The set up was that the party had been hired by high level adventurers going on a dungeon delve.  The PC's job was to guard the base camp, hirelings and extra gear.  Their employers entered the crypt of certain demi-liche but never returned.  After a week, the hirelings decided they'd waited as long as they could and the food was running out.  The party was to lead the group back to civilization and sell off what ever extra gear their employers had left behind.

The party of three little ones and three adults were aggressive in dealing with the monsters they encountered.  "Retreat" was definitely not in the vocabulary of the girls.  Intuitively, they looted their slain foes much to the amusement of the adults in the party.  I thought it was interesting that these girls who had no previous exposure to the game were figuring out some of the standard operating methods of old hands without any prompting at all.  The only instance where they ran away was when they came across a hobgoblin lair with over 100 of the nasty beasts present.

Their aggressive tactics led to a few close calls. Some well timed heal spells from one of the adults playing a cleric kept them from being wiped out.  One of the girls was playing a 3rd level wizard who made the most consistent attack and damage rolls of the group.  Once her daily allotment of magic missile spells was gone, she went to work with her staff and hitting as often as most of the party's fighter types.  I kept things moving along and letting the girls roll dice as often as I could manage.  Brief but colorful descriptions of the action kept them focused and interested.

Those little gals were as adventurous as any pulp fantasy barbarian ever was.  They were a lot of fun to have at the table and were asking for more when the session was over.  It was a bit of a heartbreaker to turn them down but felt good to hear one of them declare, "Mom!  I killed a hobgoblin!"

In the afternoon I played a reprint of the Tom Jolly classic board game "Wiz War."  Fantasy Flight has put together a nice version of the game with quality components.  I had never played the game before but found it to be very enjoyable. Fortunes can change very quickly in Wiz War.  One player who is close to winning can get mopped up in a few turns if his opponents play the right combination of spells.  Another player who appears to be lagging can win if no one is paying attention.

I met some very nice people at the convention.  I plan on coming back next year.  It is worth checking out if you are in the area and have the time.

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