GenCon 2018 Prep: Round 1

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If you’re running games at GenCon, you have to turn in the descriptions months ahead of time, so here’s what I’m running at GenCon this year (all using the Cinemechanix system), and where they came from.

Assault on Dungeon 13

Dungeon 13 isn’t protected by a dragon and doesn’t have a secret room filled with vast riches and powerful magic, but it’s not a bad place to live. The monsters mostly get along, there isn’t too much slime or ooze, and ogre in room 17 makes a mean rat stew. That all changes when Krag, a half-human from the Skullsplitter orc tribe who works at the tavern in the nearby town, arrives with a warning that a band of bloodthirsty adventurers is planning to invade your peaceful lair.

Where it came from:

This is the first idea that popped into my head when I sat down to come up with game ideas. My favorite thing about Qerth is when the PCs stumble into the “backstage” areas of the dungeons and I get to play the monsters as disgruntled workers, and this is kind of the same idea. I’ll need to make it clear that all the monsters can talk (they speak Monster, of course) because I really want some of the players to be Gelantinous Cubes and Mimics and other weird-ass monsters. I think it would be entertaining.

Lance Jackson and The Red Sun

In the 23rd Century, the Russians control outer space. American spies have long known of the communist plot to build a device that will block the Sun’s rays from reaching America, and they’ve finally found the location of the ruskies’ secret base: the recently-discovered Planet X. Now it’s up to Captain Lance Jackson and his team of all-American heroes to make it past the Russian space patrols so they can land on Planet X and win one for the U.S. of A!

Where it came from:

A few years ago I ran an M-Force campaign set in New Orleans and one of the players made up a character who was more or less Adam West from Family Guy, only instead of being mayor he owned a Stop N’ Rob. The character’s best-known role was as Lance Jackson, a space hero who fought the Commies in a cheesy sci-fi TV series. Kind of Flash Gordon with very unsubtle Cold War propaganda. We never came up with much detail for the setting of the show, but I don’t think the show writers would have either, so I should be ok winging it.

Famous Monster-Hunters of Filmland

Every actor does horror sooner or later, and when your turn came you were lucky enough to land the role of totally awesome monster hunter that the fans loved. Your monster movie isn’t necessarily what you want to be known for, but it is nice that you can make a few extra bucks signing autographs at conventions like CreatureCon 23. The only drawback is that some of the fans have a little trouble separating the actor from the character, so when time and space rip apart and start spewing out hordes of monsters right in the middle of the con, guess who everyone expects to make with the slaying?

Where it came from:

Pretty much just a variation on “League of Kickass Dudes,” but with a “My Name is Bruce” angle. I signed up to run this one at Archon a few years ago but it didn’t happen. I think it was an early morning game, and since Archon is a party con those are always a crapshoot. I decided to give it another try. Watching the Evil Dead series might have reminded me about this one.

Vanishing Blacktop

Not long after the Summer of Love came The Big Boom. The bombs took out the cities. The fallout took out the suburbs. The places that are still habitable are separated from one another by a toxic wasteland filled of mutants, murderers, and Marxists. That’s where you come in. You’re part of a convoy, a brave band of hard-traveling road warriors who brave the badlands to help keep America alive.

Where it came from:

I’ve been muddling over this idea called “Dinerpunk” (working title) for a few years now. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I think it’s probably awesome. This is my second attempt at a proof of concept game. The first one didn’t quite work for a number of reasons, but I think this variation has more potential to survive first contact with gamers. I started working up the backbone of an Elevator Pitch for this one, and I’ll probably post about it in the future as I develop it. Here’s the bullet list of random ideas I’m starting with:

  • On July 17, 1970, a nuclear war destroyed most of America, and probably the rest of the world
  • Convoys are the bands of “adventurers” who travel out into the wastelands to scavenge for supplies and move goods between the surviving outposts of humanity. A typical small convoy consists of a scout vehicle (muscle car or motorcycle), a cargo vehicle (18-wheeler, cargo truck, bus, etc), and an HQ vehicle (van, large sedan, RV, etc) that usually doubles as the rear guard. All are equipped with CB radios.
  • Things in the wasteland: Road hazards, highwaymen, nuclear fallout, mutated humans, mutated animals (like giant scorpions), firestorms, ash storms, etc.
  • Any place worth scavenging/raiding is heavily defended, hard to reach, or both.
  • Outposts of humanity: rural towns, religious compounds, hippie communes, army bases, isolated estates and institutions (remote military schools, asylums, etc. that run partially off of steam or gas are especially prime real estate since steam and gas are much easier to come by than working electric lines).
  • Diners and truck stops are considered sanctuaries. They trade with everyone who follows their rules, don’t take sides in disagreements, and don’t permit violence on the premises. Staff, regulars, social convention, and the threat of being cut off are usually enough to dissuade bad behavior, but some have more aggressive methods of enforcing the peace.
  • Most long-range planes and seaworthy ships that survived were commandeered shortly after the Boom by people hoping to find somewhere more hospitable. Getting one of the ones left running and finding enough fuel, supplies, and expertise to use it would be a major undertaking (with no guarantee of finding something better before supplies run out). Some people have access to helicopters or smaller planes, but most are used sparingly because of the fuel requirements. Trains (often old steam engines that have been brought back into service) are used on a local scale in a few areas where there are still good tracks.
  • A working TV will just give you a test pattern or maybe an emergency broadcast, but anyone with working power and a little know-how can get a radio station up and running again. Tricky Dick occasionally broadcasts an all-frequencies message to ensure everyone that America is strong and everything will be ok, but most people rely on DJs (need a good lingo name) to get news on what’s really going on outside of CB range.
  • Yes, Nixon is totally hiding out in a bunker trying to figure out how to turn the nuclear apocalypse into an advantage for himself.
  • Detail some DJs. I think one needs to be Dr. Gonzo, broadcasting from the Owl Farm.


  • The Mad Max Series
  • Easy Rider
  • Vanishing Point
  • Jericho
  • Six String Samurai
  • Warrior of the Lost World (particularly the Megaweapon parts)
  • Damnation Alley*
  • Two-Lane Blacktop*
  • Convoy*

*Probably. I haven’t seen Two-Lane Blacktop and haven’t seen Damnation Alley or Convoy in years, so I’ll need to watch/rewatch those to verify their inclusion. There will also be a recommended listening list that might rival the one in Hobomancer, but right now it’s mostly the obvious stuff (Springsteen, Highway to Hell, etc.).