I recently volunteered to run a couple sessions of the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying game at the Calgary Expo. I suspect the reaction of some of my family and friends was probably along the lines of “How the hell did that happen?”
For those that don’t know me that well, I would describe myself as a sociable introvert. I don’t generally like crowds, and I seldom initiate conversations with people I don’t know, but once I’ve been introduced to someone, if we find we have something in common, then I can be somewhat talkative and sociable.
So, how did I end up at the Calgary Expo running games for complete strangers?
I’ve enjoyed Roleplaying games since being introduced to Dungeons and Dragons more years ago than I care to admit when I was in high school. One of the games that came out while I was in high school was the first version of a Star Trek Roleplaying game by FASA, which became one of my favorite games to play.
The years went by, as they tend to do, and the members of my gaming group moved away, or moved on to other things. We would occasionally get together for a one shot now and again, but even those got further and further apart.
So, when Modiphius released the latest version of a Star Trek RPG, I think in mid 2017, I picked up a copy. It was quite different than what I was used to and I ended up setting it aside and didn’t think much more of it.
Then, in late August 2018 I saw something on Facebook about a small one day convention being put on by RPG Alliance. I had no real idea what the group was about, but it was being held at Dickens Pub and there was a Star Trek game listed as being one of the games being run. I decided to step a little outside of my comfort zone and signed up to play.
It turned out that I was the only one to sign up for that game, partially because there was another Star Trek event going on in southern Alberta that same day. However, there was a Conan game scheduled and it used the same 2D20 system that Star Trek did, so I transferred my ticket to that game, figuring it would still be a good way to learn the system.
Well, I had a really good time. Keith (Starships & Steel) is a Conan guru and ran a really fun adventure. I met a good group of people, several of whom had also decided to do this conference as something outside of their usual comfort zone. Vic Ster, who had organized the conference (with lots of help I’m sure) was great, and following the conference put together the Star Trek Gaming (Calgary) Meetup group and set up several game days, one for each T.V. show.
The group was a success, enough people showed up each time to run some good games and we all learned the system together.
Somewhere along the way she had a conversation with Matt Hayles who looks after the Tabletop Gaming area for the Calgary Expo and the idea of putting together a team to run the various 2D20 games from Modiphius was hatched.
By this point I had played enough that I felt I could handle running the first adventure out of the Starter Box for Star Trek Adventures which uses a set of Quickstart Rules. Keith would run Conan, which he had run for the RPG Alliance Convention. Vic would run John Carter of Mars and a Star Trek Deep Space 9 adventure, and Ben from Hexagon would run another Star Trek adventure.
I did a test run of the Quickstart with the Meetup group, which went really well, so it was off to Expo. (I discussed the test run in an earlier posting here.)
I went down on Wednesday night to help stuff giveaway bags and attend the Volunteer Orientation. Matt toured us around and we ended up in the Tabletop Games area in the basement of the Big Four. We weren’t happy with the way the tables were arranged, so our small team basically rearranged all of them.
On Thursday I went down in the early afternoon and helped get things setup for the Modiphius team, hanging the banners and getting the table ready for Vic’s game.
I hung around until Vic’s game got started. My friend Dave had shown up by that point and we wandered over to the Vendors area. I had a couple specific things I wanted to pick up, and people I wanted to stop by and say “Hi” to.
I popped in to the booth for Wheatland Woodwork whom I had worked with earlier this year in getting a custom lidded dice tray which I love.
I also stopped by the “Galaxy Gaming Gear” booth and chatted with Jeff for a bit and picked up some of their new Sci Fi line of minis and terrain. They also kindly provided some mini’s and props as give aways for one of the D&D games that ran over the Expo.
That evening and the next morning I assembled my new toys, packed up everything I needed for my first game and headed back down.
One of the new props made for a great wormhole to go with Vic’s Deep Space Nine station.
I also set up a shuttle craft with the Galaxy Gaming tiles and props. We didn’t actually use the little minis in the game, but they attracted a lot of attention to the table.
The Friday game got started a little late as the two people that initially showed up decided to call in a couple friends to play as well, and my friend Dave was running a little late, but once we got started it was phasers out and blasting away.
The group wasted no time in finding some extra phasers to turn into grenades and took the head on approach to dealing with the Romulans that had boarded the science ship and taken over engineering. There was a lot of laughter and everyone had a good time, even though two of the players had to duck out a little early.
Keith also ran the first session of his Conan Adventure on Friday as well.
I’ll have to check with Keith but rumor has it that near the end of the adventure the characters almost decided to side with the Witch instead of with the folks that had hired them to guard the caravan and retrieve a stolen artifact from the witch.
On Saturday I ran Star Trek for the second time. This group took a totally different approach than the Friday group. There were four players and they choose to play the Science Officer, Medical Officer, Engineer and Pilot. Nobody picked the Security Officer or the First Officer which are the character’s with the best combat skills. Instead of diving headlong into combat they choose to avoid confrontation as much as possible, eventually sneaking into Engineering and having two of the characters hold off the Romulans as long as possible while the other two frantically worked to bypass the systems lockouts and get rid of the interference that was preventing communications and transportation. They managed to get that done just as the two people holding off the Romulans were stunned into submission. That meant that the the players ship could then beam in a full security team to handle the Romulans.
Both groups had a lot of fun, the Saturday group definitely took a more serious and Star Fleet style approach to the scenario. The Engineer on Saturday was using tables for cover rather than jumping on them screaming war cries at the Romulans like the Friday group.
Vic also ran her John Carter of Mars adventure on Saturday, and I have to say that her Sky Ship props certainly attracted a lot of attention.
Saturday night saw a really nasty snow storm roll in, I was expecting snow from the forecast, I just wasn’t expecting it to be coming in sideways at bullet speeds. After four days at the Expo I decided to take Sunday off to recoup. Sadly, that meant I missed the chance to play in Keith’s second run of his Conan adventure but I just wasn’t willing to take on the icy conditions and I was pretty worn out. Ben also ran his Star Trek adventure on Sunday, but I haven’t heard how that went, but the player that won the copy of the Rulebook that Modiphius provided as a door prize looks pretty happy.
Modiphius kindly supplied us with two copies of each of the Core Rulebooks for the games we were running. One of each was given away as a door prize and the others went into the Expo games library.
The Tabletop Games area is one of the quieter areas in the Expo, and that’s still pretty relative, it took two days for me to get my voice back completely. It never got so crowded in there that I felt anxious, unlike the Artist and Craft area on the main floor of the Big Four. I only lasted about half an hour up there on the day I popped up.
Overall I had a really good time. I would certainly consider doing it again next year, although I think I’d skip the Wednesday night bag stuffing, they had plenty of help for that and I believe got it done in record time.
I got to meet some really nice people, and got to know some of the people I met at the RPG Alliance conference and the Star Trek Meetup group better. I was really happy with how many of them came by to say hello on multiple occasions. And everybody seemed to have a really good time.