<Cross-posted to my Facebook feed>
ReaperCon 2019 recap...
I always take a week (or two!) to come down and recover. ReaperCon takes a lot out of me and this year was no different. Par for the course, I am in the neighborhood of fifty, however this time around I caught the edge of the con crud, which sucked. Hard. It took me out of work for a day and sucked the wind outa my sails forcing me to sleep. A lot. Nasty frickin’ germ, let me tell ya. I wasn't the only one, a few others came down with the plague. Thankfully this is the first year I caught the crud, hopefully it's the last.
So... ReaperCon 2019 simply put was a roaring success. The biggest one yet, bar none. What started out as a gathering of fans at the Reaper warehouse has grown into a legit convention with guests, dense clusters of gaming tables, and a dealers room. No it's not Gen Con, hell it's not Origins either and I'm ok with that. In spite of all of the growth, it's still an intimate affair populated with some of the nicest people on the planet.
It bears mentioning this was my 8th ReaperCon. My first was 2011. I'd just come off a five day vacation on St. George Island Florida. I slept exactly one night in my own bed and then jumped on a plane for Denton TX. Yeesh, I was worn out when I arrived. ReaperRon urged me to just bring myself so I didn't schedule any games and I just brought my dice figuring I'd drop into whatever piqued my interest. We played upstairs above the warehouse floor. Space was tight, the room was usually reserved for wargaming and mini painting by the staff and fans. Very humble. The first night was the meat & greet, with BBQ provided by a local who knew his way around ribs, slaw, and brisket. ReaperRon made his outstanding banana pudding. Do not tell him I raved about it, he's gotta big enough head about the confection already although it's been a few years since we've seen a pan of it at the con which saddens me… Next year I’ve been asked to whip up a few pans of my famous Rice Crispie squares. Challenge accepted!
The following year (2012) I started running my own events. I don’t attend cons to PLAY, I attend to Gamemaster. Needless to say, we kinda hit a nerve with the fans and Reaper has had its hooks in me ever since.
This year I ran 21 hours of games on schedule covering 7 different dungeons in Stonegraves, a horror-hive megadungeon created by Murkillor the Wraith King to test out his fiendish creations. It's not a nice place. Prior to the con, seating for my events was 75% full within hours of the events going live on the website and over the next two weeks they were sold out. It’s a good indication that we’ve got some hardcore gaming fans. Except for the first session, I ran with +1 players so seven player tables and always with 2-4 other players eager to sit in. I'm a ham by nature (some would say attention whore) so we always had a few fans watching on. Others wandered by to gawk at the massive Chessex MondoMat ReaperRon got for my events. It is glorious to draw massive dungeonscapes.
These were official Dreadmere 5th edition events and this was the last year of Dreadmere. Yeah, let that sink in. We ran 4 years of Dreadmere rpg events, unprecedented. In previous years we always had a different theme, but Dreadmere has really fired the imaginations of the fans. Intensely gratifying that. And humbling. I love that ya'll love what we created. But do not despair, Dreadmere isn’t going away. Far from it… Dreadmere lives on and I’m eager to share it with a MUCH larger audience sometime very very soon...
My adventures were brutal by design. Stonegraves doesn't care about "fair encounters" and CRs. If you wander down the wrong corridor or open the wrong door, you might find yourself standing face to face with something WAY outside of your CR. Smart players learned to run, hide, and fight hard. Treasure was ample whether it be the alicorn from a dead mad unicorn, magical rings, potions, or glowing swords. Stonegraves is filled to bursting with loot so I kept the goods flowing in proportion to the peril. And there was plenty of peril to go around.
Each adventure started off with the outlaw band approaching one of Stonegraves known entrances. Seven bands seven entrances. Funny that when I designed Stonegraves, 7 just jumped out at me when I was running a playtest, I just liked the number. Each entrance had a different theme and the threats beyond the doorway matched the themes.
An enormous bronze griffin harassed one band, another group of outlaws was confronted by a trio of skeletal centaurs, another dealt with plant horrors in the crumbling ruins of a great domed garden. Nasty business, the players won’t soon forget their brief forays into the Wraith King’s lair.
As usual the players were a joy to have at the table. D&D 5e was the game but we played with a few house rules. The players had the option to ignore the house rules but they also gave up the joss points. Nobody opted to reject the house rules and everybody had a ball, me especially. I like to make any system my own and I’m grateful for the players’ flexibility. Many of the players mentioned they were playing in other campaigns with my house rules. High honors, I was delighted to hear this.
As I mentioned ReaperCon has begun attracting guests. In years past we had Sean Reynolds and Monte Cook, this year we had Alyssa Faden. She was joined by hubby Jack Cull and I was thrilled to have ‘em both at the table on multiple occasions! Such delightful nerds and oh what terrors did we enjoy together. Alyssa is best known for her cartography. I’ve drooled over her work for years so I was so happy to finally have her and Jack at the table. Hoping they return next year to get their seadog swaggers on.
Unfortunately I didn’t run much after hours. I had planned to run Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes and/or Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe, maybe some FATE Core but I caught the crud early and by days end I was pretty wiped out. Thankfully I managed to muster the necessary oomph to run a Cryptworld (formerly known as Chill) for many of the artists on Monday night. Thanks to ya’ll for a truly outstanding kids on bikes style adventure at Twin Pines Summer Camp. We will revisit this setting in future ReaperCons.
Now to get all mushy. I’m grateful to Reaper for their continued and generous patronage. It’s such an honor to represent them both as author and gamemaster. I love running wearing the Reaper tabard especially the blue Hall of Fame shirt. Such a tremendous honor! At the heart of Reaper is a family, a very large ever-growing family of nerds whose passion, generosity, and kindness is without bounds. I’m so happy to be part of the Reaper family.
ReaperCon wouldn’t be possible were it not for Ed and David Pugh’s leadership. Thanks guys!! But what is a ship without a navigator, bowsun, and pilot? Those roles are ably filled by Reaper’s power couple Ron and Adrienne. The amount of work they put in before, during, and after the con is staggering. Thanks and much love to you both.
So there ya have it. Yes, lots happened I didn’t mention. No reason to bog this down further with my ramblings. Come next year and see for yourself!
Suffice to say, ReaperCon is my con and I eagerly look forward to it every year. Much love to the Reaper folks, the artists, the fans, and everybody who makes ReaperCon so special.