TobCon 3 Report

I had the privilege of going to the third TobCon in London at the end of August. Spread out over Saturday and Sunday, I got to play three games and run one.

My own game, Rough Night for a Red Wedding was initially meant as an homage to Rough Night at the Three Feathers, and I’ll have a bit more to say about how that went in a separate post. The three games I played were all packed with great ideas, even though the respective systems didn’t always support the game style as well as they could have.

The first was Wim’s Big Trouble in Little Kislev, run in Feng Shui 2e. I was really looking forward to it because I know how much Wim has put into fleshing out Marienburg and this part of it, in particular. The game didn’t disappoint, with a very Kislevite twist at the end. What didn’t work so well was the system. As the title implies, Wim wanted the game to be very pulpy, and he ran it that way. You would think that Feng Shui would be the perfect system. But while I’d had good experiences with 1e, I’d heard that 2e really didn’t do what it set out to, and I think that criticism is justified: it was just too fiddly and not epic enough. This didn’t matter on the day, because Wim’s an excellent GM, the scenario was rock-solid and it didn’t feel too out of place for Warhammer that the more out-there aspects of HK cinema never materialised.

Next, I played The Dirty Half-Dozen, where everyone played Trollslayers and the aim was not so much to win as to die in glory. This was another really fun game that made full use of TobCon as a venue: a one-off that came at the Warhammer world from a slightly odd angle. As expected, there was a lot of combat, and the game ended up testing the WFRP 4e system to, and beyond, its breaking point. By the end, there was just too much maths involved in determining damage. I’m sympathetic to the desire to cut out the extra damage roll, since it’s very frustrating to hit only to see it have little or no effect because of a bad roll. But 4e has eliminated much of the whiffiness of 2e, so I’m not sure this remains much of a source of frustration.

Finally, I played a game of Zweihänder, although here the mechanics didn’t figure quite so prominently. Tad, the GM, had put together a really interesting scenario about the trauma of war and how it affects families and how tradition, while important as something to hold onto in difficult times, can get in the way of reconciliation and moving on. It was thematically very compelling indeed.

So three scenarios, all Warhammer-esque, but all in very different ways. For me, TobCon this year, like every year, was a testimony to the imagination of the GMs and players, as well as to the variety and flexibility of the Warhammer background. I was saying to someone just the other day, that the reason I fell for WFRP back in the Eighties was its combination of psuedo-history, conventional fantasy, horror and comedy. As a setting, it can do all these things individually or in a variety of flavours and combinations. TobCon proves me right about that with every single session.

Others’ break-downs can be found over at the Winds of Chaos forum here.

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