I had a blast at Indie Game Reading Club Con - Spring Edition 2023.
I ended up playing three different games: Lavender Hack, The Pool, and Mothership. This was my first role-playing game convention. It was three for three, and I got to play with some people I have missed playing with.
Lavender Hack - Hot Springs Island
I played Lavender Hack on Friday with the designer, Phil Lewis. Me and the other two players did some exploration of Hot Springs Island. This is a published campaign, with many points of entry. Published campaigns are normally not my thing but I enjoyed playing Lavender Hack using this material.
Lavender Hack bills itself as a grand strategy fantasy RPG with: "rules for getting lost, going broke, losing friends, and making questionable assumptions about magic."
The game mixes lighter systems such as The Black Hack and The White Hack with some inspiration from games such as Fate Core, Apocalypse World, and Burning Wheel. These were not observations I made from playing it, they're spelled out in the text. I love that.
The grand strategy aspects of the game are expressed via the rules for exploration, travel, sea adventures, factions, court, and downtime. In our game, we did a little sailing, some overland travel, and a tiny bit of dungeon exploration.
For all of the things we did, there was much we didn't get to try out. Because I enjoyed the game and I am curious about the parts we didn't try, I would play Lavender Hack again or use some of its sub-systems to play something like the old Oregon Trail video game. Not necessarily in that historical period. Rather, I'd like to play a caravan doing treacherous overland travel in a more fantasy-inspired backdrop.
While I don't like to advertise, I do like games that are freely available and very much in the spirit of our About page. A free PDF of Lavender Hack can be found on DriveThruRPG.
Phil's other game, Wrath of the Autarch, also seems like a lot of fun.
The Pool - Demon Slayer: Cherry Blossom Village
On Saturday, I played The Pool with someone I have already enjoyed playing that game with. The situation was based on the Demon Slayer anime series. I have no familiarity with that series but the game material had enough information to get me up to speed.
It was a more heavily prepared situation in The Pool than what we have been playing at the open houses. The game also featured a custom health level mechanic to add a little granularity to combat. I think it worked pretty well but we noted some improvements that could be made. The Pool lends itself to such customizations while also playing very well with little to no customization. It's a game system that has a lot of range.
That's another thing I don't normally do: play games in pre-established settings from comics, novels, TV, movies, etc. But the GM knew how to pull this off without introducing the problems I have observed in the past when playing in games that try to do this.
Mothership - Requiem for Aquarius
Sunday's game of Mothership was enjoyable. I've played other games with this GM before and it is always a great time playing with them. Mothership is a sci-fi horror role-playing game in the style of Aliens or Saturn 3. I played an android who survived until the end, only to be captured by the fanatical religious organization we were sent to assist in destroying. The other player lost two characters to the aliens and their last character ended up converting to the fanatical religion to save their hide.
I think Mothership is pretty good for playing the type of fiction that inspired it. It is not amazing but I did find it quite playable and I would happily play it again. I will add Mothership to the list of options for the open houses. It's easy to get into and in my experience, it is well-suited to one shots or possibly even longer play if the characters make it out alive.
I didn't get around to playing a solo RPG in the normal Killed By Dice timeslot as Mothership tired me out. But it was a good kind of tired, so absolutely no regrets.