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The CottageCon 2015 Challenge

In November we go off to a ‘sort of remote’ Cottage and play games for a couple of days. We started this tradition way back in 2007. That’s another date that makes me feel old as that’s eight years ago. That’s just ludicrous. I’d like to think we haven’t done one every year since, as I only remember three, and I really didn’t think I’d missed that many.

Anyway, it used to be a role-playing game thing but now it’s a general gaming thing involving all sorts of tabletop games of every stripe.

We call this CottageCon.

The Challenge

I’ve set myself a two challenges this year: run something and run something challenging.

The first one is obvious. I’ve not run anything since FATE Fading Suns prematurely ended. I still think running games of some sort is still in me and I want to exercise that itch or at least see where it goes. I think there are some issues around format but that’s part of the interest and CottageCon gives me a spin at a Con-like game. The second one is interesting because I always like challenge to be a facet of running games, doing something new and different (for me, it may be routine for anyone else). I never just like to do the ‘this is another X style campaign in system Y I always run which I can do in my sleep’.

The game I’m running is a superhero one-shot and the challenge comes from a number of factors:

  • It’s a convention-style one-shot and I never historically done those
  • It’s a superhero game, something I’ve done since playing Golden Heroes a lot in the very late eights / every early 90’s (I think)
  • It’s going to use Marvel Heroic Role-Playing because, whenever I consider system it is the right one, and mastering that is a primary source of challenge

I’m looking forward to it as the superhero one-shot is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, so it’ll be good to get it out of the system as well having broke the back of Marvel Heroic in actual play.

Dice Management

I went to Go Play Leeds last weekend and one of the things I noticed when shoving stuff in a small bag for the event was: my dice are old. Okay, age doesn’t overly matter, accept for when I realised I was still using my Golden Heroes D20 in our 4E Campaign and the corners were so eroded you sometimes wondered if it virtually counted as a sphere, but they didn’t inspire me any either. They’re all different colours and stuff. Just very random.

The urge to buy new dice grows when you consider two things: Marvel Heroic uses every dice type (as part of the Doom Pool and potentially spread out on Assets, etc) in potentially significant numbers and I can sometime have severe pattern matching problems when selecting dice. I did look into getting a good number of each die type in funky colours so they could be easily harvested back and spotted, but that was getting expensive fast. I think I’m going to get 2-3 sets of dice from Amazon and each ‘set’ provides 5 of every dice type, thus providing me with 10-15 of each die type. It looks like each dice type is a different colour, if this turns out to be true it will be very good as it’ll mean the colour can be used to separate dice types. If not, I’ll sacrifice that for price.

I think I’ll also look to keep things contained by finding some sort of ‘container’ to roll my dice in, makes the pulling them together quicker, keeps them within the same special range rather than having to drag them from around the table.

Learning the Rules

Let’s face it, Marvel Heroic isn’t one of those systems people like because the rules get out of the way and you roll a 2D6 skill check every so often. The rules are intrinsic to the game working like a comic, you work the rules to get to great, unexpected outcomes and the game appears to by many rules but in truth it’s one big meta-rule that can’t really be picked apart and used in isolation.

Phew. It gets great outcomes, but it does mean you have to understand it and mechanically use it.

I’m not panicking, it’s not like it’s a test, and everyone at the table will be working towards having fun, but part of the challenge is using the system well so I want to get agile with it. Part of this is reading the book again, breaking it apart and marking it up. Another part is thinking of practical tools at the table to keep things present in mind and operational, rather than theoretical in the book. As an example, I’ll make sure we have:-

  • The quick reference sheets available
  • Dice pool construction strips available for all players

Then I have to just constantly remember that a core of it is FATE with dice attached (and different names for the rule constructs and concepts) and while that isn’t everything to the system it keeps you on a certain solid core!

Other Than That, Let’s Prep!

I’m sure there will be other tools and widgets I think of along the way. I’m not looking to burden it with stuff, just some common sense things to keep the game organised in my mind and try and counteract my known foibles.

I’m lucky in that the idea behind the game is one I’ve been throwing around in my mind for a while, so the general strategy of it is pretty well understood, how that plays out in terms of actual tactical level play depends on the day. I’m keeping it to major beats, how the characters get between the beats will probably vary and how the relationships play out is anyone’s guess. I’ve also taken some inspiration from the old Legacy of Eagles module for Golden Heroes, but it’s very much a new Doctor Who sort of connection rather than a literal use.

I may start with locking the characters down somewhat. I also suspect some of thought as I journey towards the day will be what mechanical tools I have in the Marvel Heroic bag for resolving conflicts in interesting ways.

It’s a bit exciting.

About Ian O'Rourke

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