SCJ 3a – another great day out

TLDR: small, friendly, relaxed “decide what you want to do on the day” event in Central Birmingham. Nice.

Spaghetti ConJunction is a sweet little games day in central Birmingham which I was lucky enough to set up with James Mullen and Matthew “Pookie” Pook. We offer two days per year at Geek Retreat in Central Birmingham – one in February and one in October. I believe that our “a” day in February is the first non-residential TTRPG con in the country each year.

This one was 3a. (In our third year already?) Prior to the event Pookie does a superb job of posting press releases and I had some fliers printed. We invite people to submit games they intend to offer but nothing is decided until the day itself. There is no prebooking.

I, myself, planned to offer a scenario from the “Role Play Relief” books – which had just become available – and a 13th Doctor adventure. However, as the day neared, I came down with quite a nasty infection in my larynx and – come the day – decided not to referee unless absolutely necessary.

The three amigos met at a bistro round the corner for breakfast and a chat. We don’t actually chat much except at SCJ and maybe Concrete Cow. Checked social media and swapped messages with a few attendees. Just before start time – 10:00am – we went to Geek Retreat. As always the proprietor was on his way and there was a crowd waiting outside – I’d say about 2/3 for SCJ and 1/3 Geek Retreat regulars. Door was opened about 10:01 and it was a mad dash upstairs – the whole top floor is ours for the day – to get started. I sat at a table and just started taking money (£3 for a ticket, £1 for raffle tickets). By the time that mad blur was over, we were ready to start. There were about 30 people present and 8 games on offer. Some people bring preprinted sign up sheets but about half were hand-written on the day using a pile we provided. I didn’t need to offer a game.

I felt able to do the intros, but it turned out to be a nice blend of the three of us chipping in.

Signups are organised. Newbies get first dibs. Then the numbers from 0-9 are drawn in order. If you have an entry ticket ending in that digit you get to sign up. The order is reversed in the afternoon to make it fair.

Most games filled with 3-6 players. One didn’t get any and one only gained one sign up – so that referee and those players swapped to other games. The Dr Who referee kindly agreed to run with two players and take in any late arrivals.

Maze and Minotaurs, Dr Who, Is it a plane? (running a Zootopia scenario), Dungeon Crawl Classics, 5th Ed and something Runequesty with Trolls.

I didn’t feel well enough to play and sat at the desk for the morning, sorting my social media, folding raffle tickets, chatting with the proprietor and people during breaks etc. There was one late arrival who I introduced to the Dr Who game.

Everything seemed to go smoothly with a steady flow of food being brought to the table by staff. With the morning slot running from 10:30 to 2:30 it’s best to eat your lunch (usually a burger or toasted ciabatta) at your table.

Games wrapped up 2:00pm-2:30pm. We put out the raffle prizes. 17 total with the total retail value probably being worth more than the entire convention. Pookie has some extremely generous contacts in the hobby.

I ran the raffle very quickly. Unfortunately I failed to time it exactly, but we all agreed it was under 3 minutes to get all 17 prizes drawn and claimed. So that’s a rate of 10 seconds per item.

(Beat that Grogmeet!)

There didn’t seem to be quite as many afternoon games offered and there had been a couple of late arrivals swelling the numbers. So the Dr Who and IIAP/Zootopia games were offered for a second time.

Both filled. As for the rest there were a LOT of games which ended up with two players. I’ve never seen that before. There was a bit of horse trading and I think we ended up with six games –

Dr Who, IIAP, Inspectres, Lovecraftesque, 5th and something OSR. I decided to join in the Lovecraftesque game, taking the table from 3 to 4 players. The game was fine – better than Fiasco, not as good as Intrepid. I’m not a huge fan of “wicker man” type pre doomed horror. But we had a fun and eclectic table. The guy offering it was doing it as his first time facilitating a game at a convention. We had another player only used to die-based TTRPGs. Another who was new to the country from Italy – at the convention to practice his English. And me.

The game wrapped up after two hours with a satisfying ending that I wouldn’t have predicted from the outset.

I felt a bit better and offered to run a short 13th Doctor adventure to fill the time. As none of them were familiar with the new Doctor, they chose to play the three companions with the Dr being mysteriously ill. They were searching for some medical tech to help her – in an edited version of that usual Dr Who scenario I’ve been running for 5 years (it won’t die!) They found a really high tech medical device which could cure all human ills, put the Doctor in and – yup – Cyber Doctor! Great fun.

Though games were due to run until 7:30 they seemed to wrap up from 6:30 onwards – though the 5th Ed game ran until the end.

SCJ is always pot luck for us. We don’t know how many people will turn up on the day and what games will be offered or will turn out to be popular. It’s a “suck it and see” event. And all the better for that.

I’m happy with the 30-40 size we had this time but am also happy we’ve got capacity to increase in size if we get a rush one day. It’s in a good location, well timed in the year. There’s a small hard core who seem to always come and always many new faces. But though the people might change, the type of people that attend are always the same. Calm, friendly, fun, relaxed. It’s just a nice way to spend the day. Thanks guys!

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Games for 3a

The Green Minotaur

Game System: Mazes and Minotaurs
GM: Anton Ivanov
Number of Players: 2 to 6
Slot: TBC (possibly morning)

The village of Drama in the Kingdom of Argos has been plagued by a spate of deaths which the locals attribute to the fearsome Green Minotaur (a what now? No one is Zeus’ name has ever heard of such a creature). They call for heroic help. In addition to that, there are rumours of a dark cult devoted to one of the Dark Gods – mostly spread by the local drunkard.

Mature Content: No (All Ages)

 

ZPD Blue: The Great (Little) Zootopia Train Robbery

Game System: Is it a Plane!?
GM: Matthew Tozer
Number of Players: 2 to 6
Slot: Morning

In the Mammal Metropolis of Zootopia, Anyone can be Anything. Unfortunately, that includes criminals… Which is where the brave badge holders of the Zootopia Police Department come in! As an ordinary day at the Station is interrupted by one of the greatest heists of recent times, can the brave mammals of the ZPD work together and crack the case?

Mature Content: No (All Ages)

Hole in the Sky

GM: Andrew Delaney
System: Dungeon Crawl Classics

The Lady in Blue, a mysterious figure of cosmic power, enlists a band of simple peasants for a strange task. They are to follow an invisible bridge until they arrive at a hole in the sky – and then jump through. Death awaits all but the bravest, strongest, and luckiest, but the Lady offers a reward beyond all the riches of the world: the chance to change the very stars these peasants were born under, and thus change their destiny.

Players: 3-6
Slot: Morning

The Goblins and the Pie Shop

GM: Simon Burley
System: The d6 Hack (from the Role Play Relief Beginners Book).

It’s a tradition that all adventurers setting out upon a quest stop off at Mrs Miggins Pie Shop to fortify themselves with one of her marvellous concoctions. Only when you arrived today – loins all girded for adventure – the place has been ransacked. It seems adventure has come looking for you!

Guy Milner’s wonderful one-shot adventure from the Role Play Relief Expert Book played using my “The d6 Hack” rules from the Role Play Relief Beginner’s Book. It’s D&D but just using d6’s!
Pregens available but I’d rather you made your own. It’s remarkably quick and simple.
Players: 2-6
Slot: Morning

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 The Croaking Fane

GM: Andrew Delaney
System: Dungeon Crawl Classics
For as long as men remember, the Lord of Evil Amphibians carried out unspeakable rites in his squatting temples situated far from civilization. Tales of human sacrifice, squirming servants, and rich but loathsome treasures were whispered of his followers. Now, unexpectedly, his servants have seemingly vanished, leaving behind their fanes to molder in the marshes. A brave band of adventurers gathers to explore one such tabernacle, eager to discover what riches—and terrors—the Lord of Evil Amphibians has left behind…
Players: 3-6
Slot: Afternoon

Lovecraftesque – Players’ Choice

GM: Less
System: Lovecraftesque

Lovecraftesque is the GMless storytelling game of brooding cosmic horror you’ve been waiting for. You tell the story of a lone Witness at the mercy of strange and terrifying events. The game helps you create a slow-building mystery, culminating in a climactic scene of horror.

Players: 3 (plus myself)
Slot: PM
Mature Content: Yes (although the X card will be in play)

Notes:
Players can chose from one of the following playsets:

Dark Pledges by Kira Magrann. The ritualistic murder of a frat boy may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Doll Baby by Julia Ellingboe. There’s nothing sinister about porcelain dolls, is there?

Mr Giggles Comes to Dinner by Misha Bushyager. Two small children have been acting strangely recently. Their imaginary friend may be more than just pretend.

The Face of Evil by Joshua Fox. The Scottish Border town of Peebles conceals an ancient evil.

 

 “Under the Volcano”

 

At the end of their last adventure, our heroes were all sucked into a vortex. Eventually, they are deposited on a small, uninhabited island, little more than a large rock, with no water, food or any idea where they are. Then, a dark ship, crewed by a blind captain and blind helmsman approaches their location. The captain is happy to rescue them, provided the adventurers agree to go on a quest which, if they are successful, will break the power of the gods of Chaos, once and for all.

GM: David Gallico
System: Dungeons & Dragons, Fith Edition

Notes: (Type of game and adult content?) This adventure is set in the world of Elric of Melnibone, which features in several books by Michael Moorcock. However, it is NOT necessary to have read any of the books to enjoy this adventure.
Players: 6-8
Slot: Afternoon

 

Mates Against the Multiverse – a 13th Doctor Adventure

GM: Simon Burley
System: The Code of the Spacelanes
So we all know what it’s been like watching the 13th Doctor, Derek, Ryan and Yaz strut their stuff on the small screen. But what’s it like to BE them.
I’ve got stats for all four of the new main “Tardis Team” and options for up to two “guest stars”.
If you don’t already know, The Code of the Spacelanes is my super-simple 2d6 SciFi TTRPG with loads of opportunity for players to exercise direct narrative control over events.

Players: 2-6
Slot: Afternoon

Spaghetti ConJunction 2b!

Yes, just 12 weeks (plus four days to go!) to go until Spaghetti ConJunction 2b! On Saturday, October 20th, 2018, Simon Burley, James Mullen, and Pookie will be hosting Spaghetti ConJunction 2b, the twice a year one-day roleplaying event in Birmingham city centre. The venue is the Geek Retreat cafe, less than ten minutes’ walk from each of Birmingham’s three train stations and the event starts at 10 am and finishes at 7:30 pm. Last time at Spaghetti ConJunction 2a, we had fifty attendees who played the fifteen games on offer for the day across two slots, covering a mix of genres, systems, and playing styles, and this time we want to see just as many players, just as many games, and just as much choice. We are really are looking forward to seeing you and providing a venue to play some great games.

Games on the Day
At Spaghetti ConJunction 2a we had games for systems as diverse as Tales from the Loop, Numenera, Exuviae, Mythic Britain RuneQuest, Manifold, I Love the Corps, Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition, Heroquest Glorantha, Judge Dredd—and more! We are currently accepting submissions for games for Spaghetti ConJunction 2b, so if you have something you want to run on the day, please let us know.

Charity Support
Both the profits and the raffle money raised from Spaghetti Conjunction will go to its designated charity, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity (https://www.bch.org.uk/). At Spaghetti ConJunction 2b we were supported with raffle prizes from Modiphius Entertainment, Pelgrane Press, Monkey Blood Design, Sixtystone Press, Stygian Fox Publishing, Grim & Perilous, and others, and raised £241. Of course, we would like to see just as many this time and if you can offer a raffle prize, please let us know (and bring it along on the day!).

Geek Retreat
The venue is a gaming cafe and is offering table service for Spaghetti ConJunction, so you can order your lunch ahead of time and have it delivered to your table shortly afterwards. Plus, as a Spaghetti ConJunction attendee, you can receive discounts on both food and drink.

Spaghetti ConJunction 2A a great success!

YES!!!!!

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?)

 

Double the Dredd!

Great news! The Judge Dredd adventure “Better living through chemistry” is now available in the Morning and the Afternoon. Double the Dredd!

If you’ve been following the UK Games Expo site, you’ll know that this game sold out almost as soon as the bookings opened, so this is a great extra opportunity to arrest some perps!

Spaghetti ConJunction 2a!

On Saturday, February 10th, 2018, Simon Burley, James Mullen, and Pookie will be hosting Spaghetti ConJunction 2a, the twice a year one-day roleplaying in Birmingham city centre. Held at the Geek Retreat cafe, less than ten minutes’ walk from each of Birmingham’s three train stations, the event starts at 10 am and finishes at 7:30 pm and will include two four-hour gaming sessions, a charity raffle with some great prizes, and good company.

With games as diverse as I Love the Corps, Firefly/Cortex+, Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition, The Code of Sword and Wizardry, and Tremulus run at Spaghetti ConJunction 1b, we want to offer just as many and just as varied games to provide you with a choice of genres, systems, and playing styles. So we are looking for Game Masters as well as players, so if you have something you want to run on the day, please let us know.

Charity: Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity (https://www.bch.org.uk/)
Venue: Geek Retreat gaming café (come play, order lunch and have it delivered to your table)

As well as this website, we have a Google+ community and a FaceBook group. Just search for Spaghetti ConJunction.