I thought I might give my review of my three-day gaming fest in Columbus called "End of the World" or EOW for short. This is an annual event for myself and about ten other people, with most of us participating in three one-shot day-long events Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We use one system, a homegrown ruleset appropriately called the EOW System. I'll take each day as its own post, just because of length (and to milk it for the week).
After arriving in Thursday and checking in, Friday we had our first session, which was judged by my friend Scott. This was a little bit of an unusual game because it was not a one-shot, but a session for the quarterly Traveller campaign that Scott is running for the group. Normally you get three sessions a year, then EOW to cleanse the palate, but this year they decided to have one session be the "home game." I saw "Traveller" but in fact it only takes place in the Traveller universe. The rules are the EOW System, making characters a bit more diverse in their skill selections but combat lethal as all get out.
The story set up was that we (the almost inevitable free trader ship crew) were hired to transport an archaeologist, his staff, and a media crew to the secret location of a lost military base from a conflict some time ago. I should point out the coolest dimension of this session--it was all done as a large flashback. It actually began with the ship's pilot being accused of murdering one of the staff members of the archaeological expedition (something the player had no idea would happen), and the session became the content of the "mind scan" being done on the pilot. This meant the pilot would have to witness, either in person or via remote camera, most of the action in the adventure. When the judge reverted back to the trial, he dimmed the lights and used a green spotlight on the group, the only "special effect" of the weekend. It felt a lot like the Star Trek episode "The Cage."
The military base, which had never played a role in the war because of its secret location, turned out to be on some distant planet. When the PC's arrive, they discover that the former occupants appear to have been either torn apart by some strange creature or have starved to death holed up inside buildings. Moreover, some of the PC's begin to manifest small medical maladies after arriving. After some time was spent exploring pirates jump into the system demanding that we surrender the base's treasure. We held off the pirates using the base's defenses and getting to a very tight aerial battle over the base using the free trader. In addition, there's a dark swarm of creatures that surround the base, but leave after we turn off the power.
By the end, the free trader, the pirate ship, and their longboat have been battered into near-oblivion. A member of the media crew is revealed to be a pirate spy, and she frames the pilot for murdering the archaeological assistant, herself some sort of government agent. We negotiate a truce with the pirate, collect a portion of the treasure from the base, and get back home where the mind scan clears the pilot of murder.
I know from the post-mortem that the judge thought that the ending of the session was weak. He had planned to have the creatures, drawn to the base by a device that nullified psionic powers, be a real threat, but the players didn't power up the base until fairly late in the session, instead exploring it by flashlight, etc. Our reasoning was that the base had obvious defensive capabilities, and might have some sort of automatic defense system that would pose a threat to us. While the judge had some heavy-handed in places to the plot, he decided to play the whole alien menace thing straight. Good thing too, because they looked like serious trouble. We did twig to the nature of the threat (hordes of beetles, right out of The Mummy) pretty quick, although I also suspected mechanical menaces like the ones from Screamers.
No one died, a bit of a rarity in an EOW session given the rules, and strong start to the weekend. Scott's judging tends to feature a pretty rich backstory and a lot of exploration and discovery, and this session definitely came through.
Movie for the first night: Resident Evil: Afterlife