Hawkland Gaming Festival 2023

Hawkland Gaming Festival 2023

Dec 03, 2023    

This Saturday I had the great pleasure of being invited to run a game at College of Southern Maryland’s first gaming festival. The students and faculty successfully rescheduled the event when a tropical storm shut down the campus on the original September date. Running the same weekend as a PAX event in Pennsylvania, the event still got around 100 eager gamers.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

DCC table setup
DCC table setup

I had the great pleasure of running DCC for a table of 4 who got up very early for the 9:00am conference start. While I have run D&D adventurer’s league in game shops for folks I don’t know, this was the first time I’ve ever run a game at a convention. I picked a DCC module I had run once before so that I already had an understanding of the pacing. The players were great and got right into the fatalistic humor of the game.

This was the pitch given to the conferencegoers:

This isn’t your father’s D&D. This is your crazy uncle’s D&D! Come try a 0th-level meat-grinder and introduction to Dungeon Crawl Classics.  This module is a great gateway to a style of tabletop RPG called OSR (Old School Renaissance). 100% randomized premade characters will be provided.

Twelve peasants braved the starless sea and prevented the big bad from returning to the mortal world.

The final ziggurat
The final ziggurat

Different table, different outcomes

While this second run-through solved similar puzzles as my previous game, memorable moments and characters for me were:

  • A pair of random squires were determined to be twins, and both survived the adventure by sticking together and frequently rolling maximum damage
  • An anthropomorphized pet cow
  • An alchemist named Regis who consistently poked all the dangerous objects
  • Critical successes and failures causing interesting outcomes in the final fight
  • A first time RPG player who creatively used their inventory throughout the adventure

58% Survival

Using numbered meeples for the funnel peasants
  • Dave - Radish Farmer - Survived
  • Sammy - Halfling dyer - squished by a civilian flung off the ziggurat
  • Larry - Dwarven blacksmith - Survived
  • Jim - Squire - Survived
  • Jim II - Squire - Survived
  • Pim - Healer - Yeeted off the ziggurat by a chaos lord
  • Steve - Butcher - Squished by a friend
  • Umglichu - Elven chandler - Survived by mild-plot armor
  • Regus the tall - Alchemist - mutated, murdered by a bewitched friend
  • Dan - Minstrel - Survived
  • Tigerlily - Turnip Farmer - Survived, with cow
  • Patricia - Dwarven miner - death by swinging blade trap

Star Trek: Ascendancy

For the after-lunch session I sat down with a table of folks I recognized to play a demo of a 4X Star Trek game called Star Trek: Ascendancy. It taught quickly but still had enough depth that I decided I’d like to dive into in more.

Star Trek
The outcome of the demo

With some players hopping in and hopping out to control factions, I ran the Federation starting at around round 3 after a slow start. The Klingon player had made a dash to my part of space to see the space combat but had an unfortunate run-in with the many spatial disturbances in my part of the quadrant. Through some luck with an impassible space lane situation between me and the Romulan player, I was given enough time to rebuild my economy while the Romulans captured Kronos. Games that can be retold as simple stories like this are great because give space for the imagination to escape and fill in all the gaps and in betweens.

Star Trek
A fun space lane mechanic for exploring and determining paths to your rivals

The randomness of exploration plays a huge role in outcomes. Adding more players with expansions appears to slow down play, so I imagine many games come down to two players teaming up against one. Unfortunately, it is very possible to be effectively eliminated from play, which in this game could lead to a long period of sitting out for the player take out of contention.