Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)

Archive for the ‘Games’

Big Bad Con 2015 Report

October 19, 2015 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings, Site Recommendations

Big Bad Con Games On DemandAfter hearing rave reports about the convention from many of my gaming compadres I decided to give Big Bad Con a try this year. Choosing a gaming convention is an important decision for me as now that I have kids I can only attend one overnight gaming convention a year. Spending time away from the family puts more pressure on my family and costs enough money that it is a decision that I make carefully. Big Bad Con is run by Sean Nittner, a local alpha gamer, and many local gamers act as volunteer staff.

There are several things that make Big Bad Con unique to Bay Area Cons. First off it is an RPG focused convention. You won’t be kicked out for playing a board game but literally every event and seminar is related to either RPGs or LARPs. As I am a primarily RPG gamer this was something that really attracted me to Big Bad Con. The selection of RPG events really focuses on indie games which is fine by me. Big Bad Con caters to an older crowd. They have a policy to admit only people of age 18 or older. This is again something that I appreciated. You knew you were going into a game with other adults. Big Bad Con also has one of the most open community standards that I have seen at a con. I thought it was a breath of fresh air. Signups for events (aka gaming sessions) is done online. In the first round you can register for 2 games then after 2 weeks you can register for any event that you want. I LOVED signing up for games early. I’ve heard this is a standard practice on the East Coast but out here in the Bay Area online game signups before you attend the event is a recent phenomenon. This signup process worked GREAT for me. I got literally every game I wanted to play and was able to nearly fill my schedule before actually attending the con. This also allowed me to purchase the RPGs beforehand if I did already own them and read up. If you did not get into a game then their awesome Wolf Pack took up the slack. They had several games on demand that looked great. Laminated sheets made it easy to sign up. πŸ˜‰ Finally a portion of the registration fee goes to a charity. This year it was Doctors Without Borders. Just awesome. πŸ™‚

When I showed up at Big Bad Con on Friday afternoon I was warmly greeted by Sean and the volunteer staff and picked up my badge. Along with the lanyard were some neat little pins that attendees seemed to wear like badges of honor. So very cool. πŸ™‚ I also picked up my t-shirt that I got as part of the kickstarter. The Big Bad Con 2015 t-shirts were awesome and before I left I ended up with both the Wolf and Creepy Little Red Riding Hood designs. In the same room Endgame had a rack with some of their products on hand. I picked up a copy of Monster Of The Week that was on my want list.

Game sessions were held in either a larger conference room with 4 tables or in a private room with a single table. I played several games in both environments and frankly never had an issue. Sometimes the single rooms would get hot but opening a window did the trick.

During the con food was provided by either the local hotel restaurant or by food trucks. The food trucks were frankly awesome! I tried lots of different food including eggs benedict, gyros, wraps, pad thai, and crepes. I think the lamb gyros were my favorite of the weekend. The only complaint that I heard very strongly was related to a burger truck that came on Saturday night. In my session it took almost an HOUR for folks to get their food and return. I did not try the burger truck so I don’t know the reason. I guess the staff should consider multiple trucks on Saturday night for dinner. The local hotel restaurant is fine but a bit expensive. I enjoyed the Sunday brunch a lot but it was a bit expensive. Big Bad Con often had coffee available which was appreciated. I also found it interesting the two of my GMs actually brought food to the games. NEAT! πŸ˜€

I played in four convention events and one game run by a friend. I started on Friday with a rip roaring game Of War Of Ashes by the author of the book, Sophe Legace. It was a blast. My second game was Motobushido. It was epic samurai goodness! Godlike started off Saturday. The GM was from Double Exposure and did a nice job with it. I then rounded out my Saturday evening with a game of Champions that was tons of fun. On Sunday I played a game of Kerberos Club (FATE) run by Craig Robertson. I actually met Craig on the board game front (aka Tide Of Iron and 1AGames) but I had never played an RPG with him. Fun game! I was so tired that I did not attend my last scheduled event and that was a shame as it was the game I signed up for first. Carl Rigney was running Golden Sky Stories. I had seen Carl at several seminars at DunDraCon and really wanted to game with him. Next year Carl! πŸ™‚

I have been attending gaming conventions for over 30 years. My first convention was DunDraCon IV. I have been to probably 40 gaming conventions over the years including GenCon, Origins, DunDraCon, Pacificaon, KublaCon, PolyCon, and others. Out of all that con going Big Bad Con stands out as my favorite gaming convention after only attending one time. If you live in the Bay Area and play role-playing games you should make Big Bad Con a destination. To get more information just head over to

Episode 7 – The Magician Upright

September 26, 2015 By: John Taber Category: Dark Waters Rising News, Games

Vanessa[ Author’s Note: This is the log for the 7th session. Instead of posting your standard log of everything that happened during the session I will post “Then” and “Now” sections that summarize the story. The players will need to recall the details as to how it unfolded. This means that the players will be responsible for remembering any loose ends that may come back to haunt them in a later Episode. ]


Levee House, New Orleans, USA – June 19th, 2015 – As the sleek Mercedes races towards Highway 10 the sound of gunshots fade in the distance. The large vampire at the wheel, feeling naked in his pajamas, grips the steering wheel tightly. Looking out the back window of the car his heavily tattooed passenger speaks in a quiet concerned tone, “I saw at least three hunters but there must have been more. They appear to be heavily armed and good shots as well. One winged me from almost 100 yards at a dead run with an M16. Wonder if it is that blasted Homeland Security team??? Whaddya think Barnes?” The large black vampire races up the freeway on-ramp accelerating at an even steady pace. He addresses his passenger in a careful even tone, “I dunno if it was Homeland Security Garrett but either way they were a group of trained hunters. Jordan is tough and Siva and Katie are smart. It would take a lot of firepower to take down those three. I’m more worried about Sutherland. That scrawny English puke will collapse like a house of card if questioned. We best get somethin’ to quench our thirst then get to the estate and let Boston know that company is on the way. If I was them I’d press. We should expect them in the next day or so.” The leather clad youth sits back in his seat but finds it impossible to sit still. What has he gotten himself into?!? A squad of trained hunters!?!


Willow Gate Estate, New Orleans, USA – June 19th, 2015 – Vanessa paces as she waits for her lover, Boston, to finish preparations for the ritual. She reflects that it has been a long time since she has felt nervous about anything. Should Boston succeed their dreams will be fulfilled but at what cost?!? A knock on the door to the guest house reminds her that there is still work to be done. Vanessa crosses the room with confident gait, raises the collar on her blouse, then opens the door, “Hey Vanessa! Is the Boss ready?” As Garrett enters the room Barnes follows with a thin smirk on his face, “You need to be on your A game Garrett…this night is far from over.” Vanessa silently closes the guest house door then heads off to speak with Boston wishing that she did not have to deal with these jackasses, “The mistress is almost ready. You know your roles. Please don’t fuck it up.” As she leaves the room Garrett takes comfort in Vanessa’s cold demeanor while muttering, “That bitch has ice running in veins but that might be just what we need right now.”

Episode 6 – The Magician Upright

August 08, 2015 By: John Taber Category: Dark Waters Rising News, Games

Garrett Baxter[ Author’s Note: This is the log for the 6th session. Instead of posting your standard log of everything that happened during the session I will post “Then” and “Now” sections that summarize the story. The players will need to recall the details as to how it unfolded. This means that the players will be responsible for remembering any loose ends that may come back to haunt them in a later Episode. ]


The Moon’s Caretakers Commune, New Orleans, USA – August 7th, 2015 – As the day grows longer the spirits of the Moon’s Caretakers are all but gone. When the third member of the hunting party returns the three talk quickly and often glance back over at their captives. Pierre looks to Babet and speaks in a slow even tone, “Babet. We need to be strong in our beliefs. We need to think about our “pale mistress” and the relief that she may bring. When night falls and the mistress rises in all her beautiful fullness Katie and Jordan will come back and they will know what to do. If we are killed then maybe our blood will nourish them. Close your eyes with me. Let’s pray.” Her eyes red with tears Babet notices the three men returning. She closes her eyes tight not wanting to know what they plan to do to her commune family…


Levee House, New Orleans, USA – June 19th, 2015 – After returning with the small bus Jordan and Katie help Babet and Pierre into the house. When Garret spots Katie entering with the two commune members he yells out, “What the fuck Katie!?! Get those two hippie freaks out of here!” Katie responds by calmly telling Garret to get Barnes and Siva. Once the group is assembled and Pierre and Babet have been led to a bedroom Katie explains, “The commune has been compromised. It was a group of at least three hunters and they had support. Pierre describes the three as a guy with a bow, a tattooed punk with a knife, and a businessman looking guy. Pierre said they had throat mics and seemed fairly well armed. They killed Morris and 86. If they could gak those two they must be hunters. Jordan and I searched the bus and found a tracker under the front fender. We cleared it before returning but I’m afraid the TMC people may have spilled details about us.” After relaying all of the details about what they found at the camp Barnes responds by barking out orders, “Katie…you and Jordan did fine…get the Doc on the line and get him over here ASAP. Let’s process this last bunch of stiffs tonight and get back to the manor house. Hopefully the boss will have enough souls to complete the ritual. Garret give the boss a call and let her know what has happened. Siva…comb the bus and look for more trackers or anything unusual. If you find anything let me know ASAP. Let’s go people..pack lightly and move quickly…oh…and no lip out of you Siva…” The small Indian vampire pulls back his outstretched finger and cringes back like a puppy hit with a rolled up newspaper, “Sure thing Barnes…sure thing…”

Episode 5 – The Magician Upright

June 28, 2015 By: John Taber Category: Dark Waters Rising News, Games

Subject 86[ Author’s Note: This is the log for the 5th session. Instead of posting your standard log of everything that happened during the session I will post “Then” and “Now” sections that summarize the story. The players will need to recall the details as to how it unfolded. This means that the players will be responsible for remembering any loose ends that may come back to haunt them in a later Episode. ]


New Orleans, USA – April 16th, 2015 – After I asked Father about going to school he explained that it would not be possible. I know I am tall and might scare some people but if they just get to know me then I’m sure they would like me! I am excited about going to the library tomorrow on my own. Father says I can just break in an borrow some books as long as I close up afterwards. He told me to find a book called Frankenstein but I think I might try Uglies instead.

New Orleans, USA – April 17th, 2015 – Coming back from the library I was surprised to see strange cars in the driveway. As I approached I heard gunfire then a crash! The lab! As I sat stunned deciding what I should do I heard a car horn. Behind me was Jordon and Garret in their black car. (Garret is handsome but such an ass. I’m not into “bad boys”. Jordan is nice but too old for me.) They pulled up and quickly told me to get into the car. I told them no then Garret explained that a group of hunters were in the house and that it was not safe. I tried to ask why they would be “hunting” in our house but Garret seemed nervous so I got into he car. I hope father is ok…


New Orleans, USA – June 19th, 2015 – The trio of Moon Caretakers are introspective as they slowly pole their way back to camp with an empty boat. The calm swamp water belies the events will soon arise. Subject 86, or just “86” to her friends, wonders how the vampires will react with only 2 thralls ready this cycle. She puts it out of her mind when Mark yells out, “Look!” A plume of black smoke is coming from the commune! The trio quicken their pace as the wonder what they will find at their home.

As the boat reaches the makeshift dock 86 jumps out followed closely by Mark then Peter. They stop dead in their tracks when they run face first into an armed gunman. The young tattooed man with a rifle yells out, “Hold it right there! Hands up!” 86 slowly raises her hands as she watches the tarp that comprises their main sleeping area collapse is a blaze of orange flame. It is everything she can do to keep from crying. Peter stares at the tent he helped erect hoping that this is some type of nightmare that he will awake from.

After the tattooed man and 2 of his friend tie up Mark and Peter they move to the side of the camp where they can talk in private. 86 weighs her options realizing that action would likely hurt many of her friends. When her 3 captors come back from their discussion the tattooed man with the rifle leads the way. His rifle is on his back and one hand is behind his back. He circles behind 86 and stabs her in the neck. As blood fills her throat her friends look on in horror! She tries to ask the man why he is not happy with her but only a gurgle emerges. When her eyes close 86 regrets the fact that her Father will never know that she was able to carry on his life’s work…to bring life to the unliving…but at least her friends will be happy with her work…at least she would die with friends who love her…what more could a girl ask for…

The 2014 Lair Awards

May 21, 2015 By: John Taber Category: Anime Reviews, Fun Reads, Games, Media Interests, Product Reviews


[ This year the awards are a “bit” late. πŸ™‚ I got busy with my new campaign and blog posts have lapsed. I am hoping to get some reviews in soon. They are stockpiling! πŸ˜€ ]

Welcome to the fourth annual Lair Awards! It is again time to pick through the fumbles to uncover some critical hits. This year I will be adding a new category.

Here is how the 2014 Lair Awards will work. There will be five categories: Best Anime, Best Read, Best RPG, Best Board Game, and Best Session. To be eligible for an award the product must have been reviewed in the calendar year by me on the blog. There were a TON of great products released in 2014 but if I did not review them they don’t count. Also note that I often review products that are quite old. A product is eligible for an award if I reviewed it in 2014…period…it does not matter when the product was actually released. πŸ˜‰

The envelopes please! πŸ˜€

Best Anime – No Winner!

This is sad. I did no anime reviews in 2014 at all. I watched several animated features but did not get a chance to review them on the blog. Of the animated series that I watched my favorite was Clone Wars. I watched all seasons and the Lost Missions (i.e. Season 6) with my boys. Great series.

Best Read – Batwoman Volume 1: Hydrology

Batwoman Volume 1I reviewed four exceptional graphic novels in 2014. Two earned 8 paws and two earned 9 paws. The two 9 paw products included Paraiah Missouri and Batwoman Volume 1: Hydrology. I would give the story nod to Pariah but the art nod to Batwoman. I chose Batwoman for the off the charts artwork. The broken panels, the coloring, and the stunning panorama views by J.H. Williams III are just breath taking. Go buy it. πŸ™‚

Best Board Game – Memoir 44

Even though I only did one board game review in 2014 it was a great one. My 9 paw review of Memoir 44 on March 20, 2014 is the most thought out review I have ever done. After playing hundreds of session I had a lot to say but I wanted to say it in a condensed and considerate manner. I consider it one of my best reviews. If you don’t have Memoir 44 you should go buy it.

Best RPG – Hero Kids

Hero Kids CoverI read a lot of RPGs in 2014 but only reviewed around five products. Out of these products two stood out. I really thought the Trail Of Cthulhu Resource Book & Keeper’s Screen and Hero Kids were the standouts. I gave the nod to Hero Kids because of the enjoyment it has brought to me and my kids. Even now the boys beg to continue their Hero Kids adventures. Right now they are going through a kid friendly version of the Temple Of Elemental Evil and having a blast. I will have to write up some of the details from the run and post it to the blog. πŸ˜€ (Note that the Hero Kids article about our first session has also brought traffic and comments to my site which I appreciate. πŸ˜‰ )

Best Session – Session #11 – Daring Tale #6 – The Palladium Peril

I played Daring Tales Of Adventure with my main RPG group in 2014. There were a TON of great sessions to pick but I went with Session #11. Session #11 had our illustrious heroes confronting a fencing master, performing a rescue on a train, and a cliffhanger at the Coliseum in Rome!

Please reply if you have any comments. πŸ™‚