Sunday, June 19, 2016

Nexus and Eternia 2016


Hey hey! Time for some convention gaming pics!

This post is a little late since Nexus Game Fair 2016 happened almost three weeks ago, but I have a very good reason for the delay, and that's because of [INSERT EXCUSES HERE].

Now that that's out of the way, I want to talk a little about the games I ran at Nexus. I once again ran Shadows Over Eternia: He-Man vs. the Cthulhu Mythos at Nexus, and it was again a ton of fun. I always worry about getting a problem player at my table for convention games, but thus far every time I run Shadows the players have been great and its gone smooth as silk. I don't know if that's because the subject matter (He-Man/Cthulhu cartoon-horror mashup) attracts the more fun-loving and considerate players at a Con, or because the presence of so many miniatures and terrain makes people less apt to act like jerks at the table, or just because my self-involved narcissistic DMing style means I don't actually remember anyone being a problem as I was just so wrapped up in patting myself on the back due to how well I feel I pulled off the Mordak and Mer-Man impressions. In any case, I'm going to go ahead and confirm it as being a really fun time.



Table setup before the game, with character packets for the players to peruse.
I'm always way too focused on running the game to take pics of all the terrain and stuff, fortunately He-Man's player at one of the sessions was kind enough to send the pictures he took of the game so I'm able to include some of them.

Shadows Over Eternia is a D&D He-Man/Call of Cthulhu mashup adventure I've been running since 2014. Originally I made it 3.5e D&D because that was the system my buddies I first ran it for were most familiar with, and the system I used at ScanCon and GameholeCon 2014. Since then I upgraded it to 5e D&D since that is the newest system on the block and not too different than 3.5e. Plus its a lot faster to run than 3.5 (not as fast as it would be as AD&D, but still fast).
The mist-shrouded jungles of Eternia hide many dangers.
He-Man, Evil-Lyn, Skeletor, Teela, and Orko vs Beastman's Laser T-Rex.
The front entrance to Castle Greyskull.
Orko tosses a vial of Universal Solvent into a Gelatinous Cube
to see what happens.
Bartering with Mordak the Goblin in his secret Apothecary within Greyskull.
More Greyskull revealed, now with frozen room effects (caused by
an equal combination of the Transdimensional Black Obelisk of R'yleh
and yet another Dwarven Forge Kickstarter).

The dreaded Man-E-Faces has become a cultist for Evil!
Orko summons a Byakhee to distract Cthulhu.

The game starts out immediately after a great battle between Team Skeletor and Team He-Man over a McGuffin called "The Chronostone." Long story short: the Heroes and Villains in that battle (who the players choose) are flung forward in time 20 years, caused by a mysterious "Man in Yellow"(who, spoiler alert, turns out to be a Hastur-worshipping Mumm-Ra!), and so the most powerful Masters of the Universe characters are unable to prevent the takeover of Eternia by the Mythos entities that have their eyes on the dimension.

After they awake, the Sorceress appears and warns He-Man and Skeletor that Greyskull and all of Eternia have been taken over by the various Great Old Ones, and that The Man in Yellow plans to use the Power of Greyskull to open a final portal to Carcosa at midnight that night, so they must stop him before then. This means the players need to team up against this common foe and rush to Greyskull to stop the end of the world (and can't sit around and bicker over why they're enemies). It also means they can't do a 5e "long rest" to regain full hit points/spells, so they've got to utilize a little resource management throughout the game, just like they would have to in AD&D or 3.5.

The game is a 7th level game and all the pregenerated characters are ready to go with sweet-ass magic items and prepared spells, and each character represents a specific character class, in order to reduce the prep time the players need to go through. The idea behind fully fleshed-out and well-equipped pregens is so that players can pick either their favorite character from He-Man or their favorite character class from D&D and they'll be ready to go. Also so they can read the unusual equipment each character carries and utilize it in creative ways. The slowest part of any convention game is when the DM makes the players build their characters and buy equipment at the beginning, and so it takes forever because the players are passing the book back and forth buying every little piece of chalk and candles and pitons, because they're worried that the DM will say "Ah ah ha! Did you buy a tinderbox? You didn't SAY you did, therefore you can't light that torch...gotcha!" (groan) But I also think that not listing equipment on a pre-gen character sheet is a mistake (and just hand-waving "oh sure, you can say you have rope and spikes"), because I think the presence of listed equipment helps player's imaginations be inspired. Even seeing simple entries like "two sticks of chalk and a mysterious rainbow feather" in their list can get players thinking creatively about navigating mazes or deciphering puzzles. I want players to immediately feel like they're playing a well-equipped, intelligent, freeze-ray wielding Man-At-Arms right from the get-go, I don't want them wondering how many feet of rope or bundles of iron rations they should buy. That kind of equipment micro-management is fun for weekly games with a personal D&D group, but not for one-shot convention games.

Anyhoo, in this game the players fought a deranged Yig-worshipping Beastman in the jungles of Eternia (along with his Lizardman lackeys and pet Laser Tyrannosaurus), they engaged in a riddle challenge with a insane Hastur-worshipping Man-E-Faces (and ultimately Skeletor and He-Man just killed him with a combination of Evard's Black Tentacles and a Power Sword thrown into his chest), and explored Castle Greyskull where they aligned mirrors to focus a laser beam to open magic doors and face down Mumm-Ra. During the battle they were plane-shifted to R'yleh where they had to battle Cthulhu or try to escape through the Black Obelisk.

This is where Evil-Lyn's player turned on everyone. No matter how well everyone is working together, its at the moment of the final showdown where Evil-Lyn turns on the team and will go out of her way to trap every other character in another dimension to be eaten by Cthulhu. It's happened once before in another game, and here it did again. Skeletor was holding the Chronostone and keeping the portal open so the players could escape (note that its SKELETOR being a team-player and holding the portal open). Then its time for people to jump through the portal and escape, and Evil-Lyn is the first Skeletor motions through the portal. What does she do? Snatches the Chronostone out of Skeletor's hands and jumps through the portal, closing it behind her. And when she told me that's what she wanted to do I didn't make it an easy thing to do. She had to 1) Hit Skeletor with an unarmed attack at -8 (for the tiny target of what he was holding in his hands), then 2) beat Skeletor in a Strength-off skill check. In both cases she rolled super high.







So Evil-Lyn returned to Eternia alone to rule, and the rest of the party was left behind to be devoured by the ominous bulk of Cthulhu. We all had a pretty good laugh about that.



This has already been a long enough babble about this He-Man game, but I want to end on this: If you haven't been to an RPG convention before, but looking at games like this intrigues you, try going to one and see how you like it! I'm always looking for new players to meet and game with, and I know there's a number of great DMs I've encountered at the 'Cons around Wisconsin like GaryCon, Gamehole Con, and Nexus (in fact, maybe I'll do a post on great DMs to sign up for at these conventions)!

All in all, Con gaming is exhausting but extremely fun! Game on!


Sneak peek behind the screen.

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