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.)

Big Bad Con 2018 Recap

October 20, 2018 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings, Site Recommendations

Big Bad Con 2018 LogoWhat Is It?

Big Bad Con is a tabletop gaming convention held in the East Bay.  For the past several years it has been held at the Walnut Creek Marriott in October.  Although billed as a tabletop gaming convention I think the focus is on small press role-playing game and LARP events.

Why Is It Special?

Big Bad Con takes the words acceptance and kindness to heart.  Every time you walk in the lobby or approach a Ranger, one of the yellow scarf wearing staff members, you are greeted with a smile and a hello.  They will then do everything in their power to make sure the con attendee is taken care of and having a good time.  This even happens during sessions!

Acceptance is paramount.  There are pronoun ribbons for your Big Bad Con lanyard and at seminars and panels there is a real focus on acceptance and embracing identity.  In conference rooms there are spaces marked off for people who have a special need of any kind.

The result is an atmosphere that encourages attendees to talk with each other openly.  Several times I got into fantastic conversations with complete strangers.  In every case I was more than pleasantly excited about it.  One example was before the sessions on Saturday morning.  I was in the lobby having a coffee and noticed that an attendee was reading Mouse Guard.  I plan to run Mouse Guard for this group so I asked him for some advice.  Turn out that the guy has run Mouse Guard for several years and it is his favorite RPG.  He went on to spend nearly an hour giving me pointers, cheat sheets, and other helpful advice.  It turned into just an encounter that I will never forget.

What Did I Play?

I played four role-playing games and a board game.  Every session went wonderfully.

I started with Bliss Stage.  This is a giant robot anime setting with a twist.  Carl Rigney was running the game which prompted me to sign up.  Carl never disappoints.  I had a blast smiting evil dream creatures with an amped up sonic cannon.  It was awesome!

Next I played The Watch with Anna Kreider the designer.  Before the session started I actual met Racerx who was also at the session.  Fun was had by all in an action packed emotional setting.  This is a little game with a lot of depth.

On Saturday I played in Mountain Witch again with Carl Rigney.  It was one of the highlights of my Big Bad Con 2018 visit.  Having six players really makes this game tick and Carl brought it as the GM.  Go fast!

I try to take it easy on Saturday night with a board game.  It works really for me to unwind and still have enough energy for Sunday.  I played a neat little co-op area control board game called Spirit Island.  It took some time to get warned up but the game certainly rolls along once it gets going.  Liked it so much that I bought a copy and pledged for an expansion they have currently on Kickstarter.

I wrapped up the con with a delightful session of Mermaid Adventures and the Pip System with the designer Eloy Lasanta.  The session itself was a blast and the rule system was exactly what I was looking for in a universal system…simple to learn, easy to customize, and enough crunch that my hardcore players will enjoy it.  He showed off a system called Infestation when the PC are bugs with newly acquired intelligence and I think it will be tons of fun to run with my boys.

What Is My Take?

I think Big Bad Con has become the premiere role-playing game convention in the Bay Area.  I think anyone in this humble group that focuses on Indie RPG titles should would hard pressed not to have a good time.  Highly recommended.

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