For 40 bucks, I was able to attend a three day gaming convention in Calgary called Myth-A-Con. I only spent two of the three days because that's about all I can handle in a single weekend. I constantly ate food (awesome hamburgers, sub-par baked goods) and rolled dice for roughly 20 hours of gaming. Here is a report on the new gaming systems that I tried.
Shadowrun: Awesome genre. I loved the mesh between magic and technology. It was awesome to be in the middle of a gang war. The rolling mechanic was a little bit bulky with all the 6 siders, but it was not really a hindrance to the game. Bruce was a really good DM for this one. No minis were used; it was all old-school in your head combat. I played a car thief that had an awesome van with a mounted heavy machine gun. Yeah, we did a totally cool drive-by shooting and threw a captured orc gangbanger out of the speeding van.
Savage Worlds: This version of Savage Worlds was set in the 1930s. It was sort of an Indiana Jones/ Mummy type of setting. The DM (Mike?) was pretty good. He knew the game system and was able to add lots of flare to make the game believable. The game system was all exploding d6s. You only get 4 hits until you die, but you can use little story points as re-rolls to help you survive gun shots and crocodile attacks. I liked the exploding dice but I thought the system was a little bit bulky. We used little miniature paper cutouts and a little photocopied grid to roughly show the position of our guys for combat. Very cool genre, so-so game mechanics. I played Buck, a sexist, over-the-top man's man that led an expedition to the rain forest to snatch a gem from the natives.
Dresdin Files: I wish I could make a better judgment on this system, but the person running the game didn't really know what they were doing. Very disappointing. The genre was really cool, though. Vampires, undead, demons and that sort of thing running around the modern world. I played an emo-kid that wanted to turn into a white vampire that fed off of depression. At least it was fun to play an emo kid. I modeled the kid after the South Park goth kids. The DM used dice and a piece of paper to roughly position our pcs for combat. The system used a cool and very simple system for resolving combat: 1-2= fail, 3-4= nothing, 5-6= success. Successes cancel failures and viceversa. I need to play this game with an experienced GM to really get a better feel for it.
Eclipse Phase: This was the coolest game at the con. I loved the simple percentile dice system. I loved the genre, BIGTIME. I played a computer hacker that was working for a major corporation and got to hack elevators, security doors, cameras, and other high-tech thingys. I think I have found my new favorite role-playing game for space D&D. The DM was fantastic. No minis were used. This was all old-school in-your-mind combat. Cant's say enough good things about this game. Please go to http://eclipsephase.com to check this game out.
Legend of the Five Rings: I am a sucker for Asian themed games so this one was instantly appealing to me. The GM was really good at building intrigue and was really good at promoting role-playing by giving out pre-gens that had certain quirks and mandates. I played a samurai retainer that needed to protect another PC, was jealous of another PC, and despised other PCs. Role-playing in this event was a lot of fun. Combat in Lot5R is all 10 sided dice that explode. The exploding thing is really fun, but the system is really bulky. Hit points are complicated and counting up 9d10 with 7 players in the party made for very slow combat. Combat was all old-school in-your-mind. The DM was quite good, but sort of evil. We failed in our quest, and he put the blame of the failure squarely on the shoulders of on poor PC.
Playing these games over the weekend was really a terrific experience. I got to know a bunch of new people, and learn lots of new games. I also learned that I put way too much emphasis on tactics and miniature combat in my homegames. I love combat with the guys, but doing so much role-playing this weekend reminds me of the pleasures of role-playing, mystery solving and creative, critical thinking. I will surely be adding more of these elements to my home games.