TLDR: Spaghetti ConJunction 2a was a great success. Roleplayers are just such NICE people!
I’ll let you into a secret. There doesn’t seem to be that much to do to organise a simple little games day like Spaghetti ConJunction. However, when it’s you doing the organising it’s amazing how the simple little things mount up.
This was our third SCJ, hosted again by the wonderful people of Geek Retreat in Birmingham. 1a (last February) was a great start, over 40 people. 1b (November 2017) was a lovely little event but may have had less than 30 people in all. There were sterling efforts from my fellow organisers – James Mullen and Matthew “Pookie” Pook – to promote 2b (especially Pookie’s indefatigable work producing press release after press release) but we have a very free and easy approach to SCJ. We eschew prebooking to give everyone an equal chance on the day. But the corollary of this is that we have literally no idea who – if anyone – is turning up. So, naturally, I always panic that we might have no one turn up – or too many.
The day started damp and miserable. Pookie and I met for a quick pre convention breakfast in a local hostelry. James was delayed – as were several other attendees it turned out. I got to Geek Retreat about quarter of an hour before the advertised start time to find an handful of stalwarts had arrived early and we’re waiting outside in the rain.
Note to self: for 2b promote a nearby warm place people can wait if they arrive early and Geek Retreat isn’t open yet.
We got in and set up and it seemed like the floodgates opened. It was only about 50 people but I felt a bit overwhelmed on the front desk. (I don’t think I’ve actually manned it before. It was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time.)
We have shamelessly lifted the Concrete Cow sign up system. Browse the sign up sheets but you get a numbered ticket. Numbers from 0 through 9 are drawn at random and if your ticket ends in that number you come to sign up. Saves crowds and shoving. If you’re new to the convention or refereeing a game in the other slot, you get to sign up first. It’s all very well thought out and works well.
Except when half the attendees are new to the convention! Bless ’em they were all very very civilised. But it was like the old days as two dozen people all descended upon the sign up sheets at once!
We had 7-8 games in the morning, most of which filled out and ran. There was a bit of horse trading at the end, I think.
I got four players for my riff on “The Orville” TV series. I suspected that all you have to do is to run a simple Star Trek scenario and then let a bunch of Roleplayers loose on it. And I was right.
I basically had a version of the Star Trek second pilot – the one with the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy and a crew member getting godlike psychic powers – but with added Krill. I’d prepared pregens but the players all agreed to make their own characters. By far my preference.
I had Steve, Andrew , Luca and Luca (it’s a popular name in Italy). Steve was the ship’s pilot – a cybernetically enhanced feline. Andrew made a Lizardman science officer. Luca was the ship’s Engineer – who was far better at improvising weapons than he was at fixing engines – and Luca was the engineering robot who actually did all the repair work. The Engineer was the only human and even he was heavily cybernetically enhanced. All were GREAT characters, but my favourite twist was the engineering droid – who had appalling Social Skills – having in-built Muzak to give him a boost with those rolls.
Nobody made a Captain, so I gave them a doddery aging Hero of the Union in charge of his last command in his last year of service.
They were a great team. Not only did they investigate the dead Krill warship they discovered (they’d all mysteriously killed each other) they actually managed to take it over. But two more Krill warships were inbound and the crew had to pierce the energy barrier to download information from an ancient buoy before the Krill could get it.
So a plan was concocted involving sending a remote piloted captured Krill shuttle through the barrier, whilst using the a captured warship to lull the approaching ships into a false sense of security. Then the plan was to get in line with them and activate the Quantum drive – ramming them at superluminal speed. Trouble is, there wasn’t time to rig remote controls for the ship and the shuttle, so someone had to volunteer to pilot the warship by hand. A suicide mission. The NPC Captain insisted he do it.
Guess what? He missed – disappearing into warp space – leaving his ship at the mercy of two Krill warships without its Captain.
Somehow the team managed to hold off the attack long enough to download the data and blow the ancient buoy. Then they also managed to show the Krill a clean pair of heels. Mission accomplished, and they hadn’t even had to penetrate the energy barrier. (Grrrr.) With an hour still to go.
But it turned out their Captain had been captured by the Krill and they crew had to rescue him before he could crumble to interrogation. It’d already been established on the TV series how to do this (holographic projectors etc.) but this team were again amazingly efficient.
Despite this, it was a great session with some superb Roleplaying. Many laughs. Just give Roleplayers a Star Trek adventure and you have The Orville. Definitely an adventure to run out again. (I ran very little of what I’d prepared.)
An hours break. Then the raffle.
Ah, the raffle! Roleplayers are wonderful people and Roleplaying companies are as well. The prizes we’d had donated were amazing. There was a bit of a hitch when Pookie unboxed the secret prize, a copy of Zweihander, and there was a last minute rush on raffle tickets. And I LOST the book of tickets!
Once this was sorted, though, we rattled through the raffle in record time. If we’re not the fastest raffle on the circuit, I want to know just who is faster – and how!
Signups for the afternoon games was also very swift and efficient. My new Dr Who scenario got no takers, so I still don’t know how well it runs. (I guess bringing back a villain from the era of the 2nd Doctor after 50 years, doesn’t interest many people under 60).
There were a plethora of games I could have slipped into as a player but my wife is away on business and I’d agreed to travel up to Sheffield to meet her after the convention, so I chose to leave everything in the capable hands of James and Pookie and left early.
SCJ 2B was amazing! About 50 attendees, half of whom I’ve never seen on the circuit before. Lots of younger (20 something) faces amongst the Grognards. The venue remains perfect (though we developed a bit of a queue for the toilets). The raffle prizes were amazing. The games and referees were stunning. But what made it were the players. Roleplayers are such bloody NICE people. There was a lovely vibe in the room. I really loved it.
Thanks everyone! See you at 2b!
(Or NOT 2b?)