Tuesday, February 20, 2018

BASHCon 2018: With Feeling

BashCon 2018 started out on Thursday night; Tom, Randy, Saharra, and Tom2 were in town early. I had some work to take care of in the morning so could not stay for the evening Crawlspace game in the hotel. I dropped off some snacks, said hello, and went home.

Friday evening at the convention has always been a quirky experience. Sometimes the lines for pre-registration are longer than the lines for walk-up. This year, we arrived and no one was in line at all. Picked mine and Liam's badge which were pre-paid and got Irelynn's free one since she was under 13. We had no major plans for the evening other than the group playing in my Stay Alive! Gaslight game, a continuation of an adventure started back in 2016 (A Little Horror on the Prairie). 

Robin, Liam, and Tom brought back their existing characters. Irelynn brought in her eternal champion Maverick. Paul created a gambler, Randy a bounty hunter, Saharra a bar owner, and Tom2 a traveling preacher. We picked up where we left off after a huge battle with some angry natives where Tom's character took some serious injuries. A few weeks of recovery in the nearby boomtown of Sidney, NE (with the help of some Celestial Seasonings), the group was quickly combined and on a train to the jerkwater of Big Springs where the inter-dimensional gate was located in a church on the plains. We had to wrap up at 11pm since the main hall was closing early on Friday night. We agreed to pick up where we left off on Saturday night.

Saturday was booked for us to run two sessions of Circus Imperium. JP, his daughter Hallie, Irelynn's friend Riley (and her brother Eric), played along with me, Irelynn, and Liam. I won the race (I think my first such victory). Liam was the lone casualty, whipping his beasts to death and failing to jump into JP's chariot, he elected to allow himself to be dragged to death to get the prize of a candy bar for the first death. The second game was joined by Saharra, Tom2, Jennifer (part of the Springfield group), Eric, Paul, and 2 new local players. Tom2 took the opportunity to trample Jennifer when she was first thrown from her chariot on the first lap. She made it back to her chariot with 1 HP left. She completed her first lap but was later poked by a trident and killed. Saharra was also trampled and killed. The local guy won the race; he had such a lead and everyone else was mired in frenzies and crashes. 

Irelynn and Riley played in the Marvel Super-Heroes RPG, the same one they played in last year with Riley's dad. I also managed to sneak into the auction and bought a wargame for $4; no one was bidding on it. After the game, we met for dinner at the new Phoenicia location on the 4th floor. We then found a room and finished the Stay Alive! game.

My biggest concern of the weekend was the number of players I was gonna have show up for the Sunday D&D. The convergence of 3 different gaming groups I am associated with, plus the odd strangers that manage to get tickets, put us at 11 players; and 2 could not make it and another 2 I had to turn away. Ugh! We had Garry, Liam, Irelynn and JP from my original group; Richard and Juliet from the new Toledo group; Robin, Paul, and Tom2 from the Perytons; and two brothers that managed to snake a few seats that were new. I did my best to manage the large group - two battles pretty much took up the 4 hours. Some drow wanted revenge on the do-gooders and used some Umber Hulks to collapse Darkshade Tower and then attack the party with a swarm of spiders. They also kidnapped a beloved NPC and threatened to continue to dismember him if they did not follow into the underdark and the trap that was lain. The heroes prevailed.

We popped in the main hall one last time and bought Irelynn some dice before that guy totally packed it in. Also bought a 5E GM screen from Beckett (he also paid me for some of the miniatures I have selling on consignment in his shop over the last year). On our way out we were able to get the BashCon33 dice for only a $1 each (for the 3 of us), last  year's shirt for myself for only $5, and Liam got this year's shirt for $10. 

As Robin mentioned, our new Sunday thing seems to be the Mexican place on Secor. Good food and company to end the weekend.

Attendance seemed to be way down and the event registration was really suspect this year. I wonder what we will have in store for next year with the constantly rotating and recycling crew of underclassmen.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Little Horror on the Prairie (Background)

At the upcoming BashCon 33, I will be running what should be the 3rd and final chapter in my epic story of 'A Little Horror on the Prairie'. To get some people updated on the adventure to come and what has happened in the previous sessions, please read on.

Being a Stay Alive! Gaslight adventure, I always try to blend history and fantasy, thinking of the events in my campaign world as an alternate reality. For this adventure, I wanted a train robbery that took place on the plains and close to the Black Hills. The background for this event was found at the following website: Legend of America: Big Springs, Nebraska Train Robbery, authored by Kathy Weiser.

The Real Black Hills Bandits
In 1867, the Union Pacific Railroad established a water station at Big Springs in Nebraska. It was located next to an old natural spring that was long used by the local indian tribes. It did harbour a few settlers before becoming a town due to the travelers along the Oregon and California Trails as well as a stopover for the stage coaches and the Pony Express. As a jerkwater, it became one of numerous stops for steam trains at that time. In 1883, it would become the town of Lone Tree.

In 1876, Texas cowboys Sam Bass and Joel Collins drove cattle to the northern markets but instead of returning to the ranchers that hired them with the profits, they began prospecting in the Black Hills of South Dakota for gold. Having no luck and having spent all their money, they created a gang of desperados and took up robbing stage coaches becoming known as the Black Hills Bandits. Many of the stages robbed were on the same Deadwood Stage line and the last one resulted in the death of the driver (Johnny Slaughter). The horses bolted at the sound of the gunfire and as legend as it, this was the runaway stage that Calamity Jane stopped before entering Deadwood.

They soon decided that robbing stage coaches and splitting the profits six ways was not enough so they decided to take on robbing trains. On September 18, 1877, they made their way to the Big Springs station in Nebraska, captured the station master (John Barnhart), destroyed the telegraph, and forced him to signal the eastbound train to stop. The mail car safe held only $450 and when they tried to rob the larger safe, it had a time lock that prevented it to be opened until it arrive at its destination. They beat the attendent brutally but to no avail; he was unable to open it. They continued to search the train and for some reason, a shipment of $60,000 in freshly minted gold coins were stowed away in wooden boxes and not under any special guard or in a safe. The reason for this is unknown. 

After the robbery and capture of over $60,000 in gold coins, $450 from the mail car safe, and about $1,300 and four gold watches from the passengers. They split up in pairs and and headed in different directions.

Sam Bass and Jack Davis posed as farmers and rode south in a one horse buggy with their share of the haul stowed under the seat. After making it to Texas, Bass explained to locals he was wealthy from hitting a stike of gold in the Black Hills. He would eventually start another gang and rob trains again in Texas before he was eventually killed in 1878 on his 27th birthday in an ambush by Texas Rangers at Round Rock, Texas. Davis had tried to convince Bass to come wiht him to South America. He was never seen again.

Bill Heffridge and Joel Collins were preparing to leave for Texas when they were approached by the Ellis County Sheriff George Bardsley and ten cavalry troopers from Fort Hays. They both agreed to return with the sherrif for questioning but while riding back to the station, they decided to pull their guns with Collins shouting "By God! Let's die game!". With the cavalry behind them, they were killed before they were able to fire their own weapons.

Jim Berry and Tom Nixon fled to Missouri where Berry was from. Berry's wife had given birth to their 6th child a die after the robbery in Montana. In Mexico, Missouri, Berry made the mistake of exchanging the gold coins for currency which alerted the authorities. The Sherriff, Henry Glasscock, apprehended Berry at his home in Shamrock, Missouri. He had been shot in the leg with buckshot while escaping and died two days later from gangrene (October 21, 1877). Before he died, he had said that Nixon took off shortly after arriving in Missouri. It has been long thought he returned to his native Canada having never been captured.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

BASH Con Memories

I have lived in Toledo now for almost 30 years, and I have been attending the annual gaming convention at the UT campus, BASH Con, for most of those years.  Back in 2009, on a slow Friday evening, myself and this other guy were sitting at empty tables, waiting for players to our games that would never show up. We decided that I would jump over and play in his game and on that night; I was officially introduced to Tunnels & Trolls.

In 2010, I met this guy (we'll call him Tom) and his wife (Robin) again in the registration line. I had not played T&T at all in the year that had passed. Once again, the game that I had planned to run was a non-event, either because no one showed up or because anyone that did show up was still in the long registration line (a common theme at BASH Con unfortunately), so I jumped in Tom's T&T game again.

The Friday night T&T game became a yearly fixture for us at the convention. It turned out that Tom and Robin dabble a bit in small press publishing. Their company is Peryton Publishing and they gave me my first shot at getting in on the writing action before I started my own logo with Darkshade Publishing. In 2011 when my then 11 year old step son was ready to join us, it was the start of my yearly Sunday morning AD&D game, which despite one off year in 2016, is still going strong.

In 2013, Tom and I (mostly Tom) somehow orchestrated an appearance by Ken St. Andre as a special guest for the weekend.

This was also the same year the step-daughter made her first appearance at a convention actually playing games, complete with some Barbie dolls to keep her company (she was only 8; in hindsight, maybe a bit too young).

Those are some of the highlights for me. Meeting new people that would become good friends and fellow collaborators. Looking forward to many more years to come. Below is an archive of all the blog entries from Tom, Robin, Beckett, and Paul to fill anyone in on many more details cool happenings.



Tom, Part 1Part 2 Part 3

Jerry, Part 1Part 2

Tom, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Jerry, Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Tom, Part 1Part 2Part 3