Vegas Game Days
Every second Saturday of each month there is a Las Vegas Game Day here in Las Vegas. Originally organized by Mike Sanchez and furthered by Doug Daulton, the Vegas Game Days were first held at one of the Las Vegas Valley Library District’s libraries, but have moved to the Emergency Arts building, near the Fremont Street Experience. There were about 30-40 gamers in attendance when I visited on April 14, 2012, and all of them were friendly and welcoming. There are 6 tables that are used in two different sessions, the first going from 2:00 to 6:00, with the second going from 7:00 to midnight. GMs and players can sign up for games ahead of time on Warhorn, but it’s also possible to just show up and join an RPG or a board game. This is all for free. Before the gaming, there’s also a meeting for Neoncon volunteers.
Hellas: The Deroshia Connection
I had thumbed through Hellas at a Neoncon several years before and found it to be intriguing, so I signed up for the session when I saw it on Warhorn. Two other players came to the table, as well as a third, one of the game’s developers, Jerry D. Grayson. GM Perry Snow had made 5 pregenerated characters in advance for his adventure, the Deroshia Connection.
Hellas blends science fiction with Greek drama and mythology, or as the game’s creators say, it’s 300 meets Chronicles of Riddick. I took the part of the Spartan Isidorios, a skilled Hoplite of Athenia. Our techie and pilot was a Zintar, the odd purple-headed squid people with mechanical suits, occasionally resembling centaurs. Jerry played the diplomat Gregarios rather undiplomatically and our fourth member was a Nymphas Naiad, a sea nymph.
Our party had served together as Galactic Legionaires and was now investigating the mysterious disappearance of a ship’s crew. We took the ship to its intended destination, quickly passing through Slipspace, Hellas’s version of hyperspace or warp speed. Arriving at the moon of Deroshia the GM introduced one of Hellas’s player-enfranchising mechanics: we were asked to describe the moon.
Someone suggested that its liquid-covered surface was liquid nitrogen, while someone else suggested that all of the buildings were on stilts and that even though the liquid was only several feet deep there were strong tidal waves. There was no one on the moon to greet us as we explored, discovering a plot by the snake-race Goregon rebels to attack the Nymphas and inadvertently releasing a security robot, none too pleased with our presence.
We were asked to describe the security robot. Perry Snow was hilarious as the tiny, tinny-voiced robot that we came up with as he fumed at us in an affected catty voice. We made short work of it and I got a taste for the combat system, which was easy to grasp, but had a few interesting elements. Initiative is rolled, but then each character states his intended action starting with the lowest initiative. Being a bad ass Spartan, I blocked a shot with my shield, and we destroyed the defense robot in two turns and set off to foil the Goregon rebels’ plans, after first filling some fuel tanks with some liquid nitrogen and strategizing.
Coming in for a landing on the planet, our party was hailed by the Air Traffic Controller. I tried to make use of another game mechanic, calling on one of Isidorios’s Disadvantages, referencing Senator Orion as I tried to Intimidate the Controller to let us land. I could add dice to my roll, but now the GM could use the Disadvantage against me (and the rest of the party). The three of us were dropped off on a roof overlooking the square where the Golden Horse statue was. Our Zintar released the liquid nitrogen on board over the giant horse as Senator Orion and Anti-Aircraft Tanks opened fire on the ship from down below. It turned out that there weren’t any Goregons inside the horse, but instead there was a bomb, which blew up! Beseeching Hoseidon, the Poseidon analogue, and god of Starry Navigation, the Zintar avoided death. The Nymphas in the square weren’t so fortunate, including my nemesis Orion.
“I caused Orion to lose face, but you have caused him to lose his head.” I complimented our Zintar comrade after she’d landed and she offered Orion’s head to Hoseidon in tribute to the god’s patronage. As we headed towards some sort of Nymphas council several blocks away, I couldn’t resist telling our Nymphas orphan “If you had parents they would have told you to beware Goregons bearing gifts.” Not knowing your parents in Hellas means that your hero probably doesn’t have much Glory, as was the case with our Nymphas.
Some great role-playing and a big battle later saw the game end with a wedding! Gregarios proposed and was soon wed to a Nymphas princess with my character Isidorios stepping in as his best man. While the relationships that Hellas promotes are a very cool and integral feature, I was hoping to make use of some of the game’s other mechanics myself, such as beseeching the gods, cursing them, or doing other heroic acts. In a one-off session, earning Glory or Hero Points, while pleasing, is just not the same as it would be in a campaign. Trying to live up to your hero’s Destiny or avoiding his Fate, while at the same time acquiring Glory, a wife, or heroic children of one’s own, are things that really appeal to me.
Hellas has just successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a reprint of the main rulebook. I will be interviewing designer Jerry D. Grayson in the future.
Pathfinder Society: In Service to Lore (First Steps – Part 1)
With some trepidation I went to my first Pathfinder Society game. Published by Paizo, Pathfinder is based on the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons using the Open Gaming License and is set in the world of Golarion. Having looked over the Warhorn signups I decided to create a Fighter to give the party some muscle, naming him Asir Al-Nimr. I was unsure about how much RP there would actually be in this public organized play setting, but knew I wanted a character with an Egyptian feel to him, searching for relics to help rebuild the Osirion Empire. I found out later from my a friend in Oman that Asir Al-Nimr could mean “Juice of the Tiger” in Arabic. I didn’t quite channel Charlie Sheen during the adventure, but I did try to RP once I got my bearings.
Many of the other players were preparing their Level 1 characters when I arrived as well. 3 PCs had died in the Pathfinder Society game the previous session which alarmed me a bit. Eventually the game began. There were no party introductions, but instead directions from our Pathfinder Society boss. We were given 4 tasks to accomplish and sent on our way. Two hours into the adventure, I thought that we’d be finishing soon and was having a so-so time. We’d accomplished 3 of the 4 tasks, but had only had one fight against 3 Dire Rats, which I sadly played no part in dispatching. I did try to flirt and smooth talk Aunty Baldwin, the alcoholic caretaker of an orphanage, but she wasn’t having any Asir Al-Nimr on account of my Filth Fever (and perhaps her morals).
By the end of the evening though, I’d had Filth Fever, my skin had turned blue, and I’d been poisoned. I’d been reduced to 3 HP and our party had struggled for its existence. I’d also had a lot of fun in the interim. I found myself aching to get into combat and hit some stuff with my long sword. I was very surprised by the amount of problem solving that went on throughout our session and the absence of combats. However the last combat more than made up for it as we discovered what a killer Chromatic Spray can be. It dropped 4 of us, leaving our cleric and a ranger to take on the remaining villains on their own, round after round. Despite not having a turn, I was on the edge of my seat to see whether we would survive or not. We did.
Permanent character deaths being so possible definitely adds more to combats. Grinding for gold or the tabletop equivalent is also impossible. That adds a lot of weight to the gold awarded at the end of the game. I am looking forward to carefully spending the 447 gold that we each got, as well as to the next adventure in Golarion.
Hellas RPG images copyright Khepera Publishing, used with permission.