TravCon 11 - Con Report
TravCon 2011 (4th-6th March) at Redwings Lodge, Cambridgeshire
For the fourth year in a row, British Isles Traveller Support (BITS) laid on an exciting weekend of twenty Traveller games across five slots. Attendees arrived throughout Friday afternoon and evening, to be presented by organiser Andy with impressive glass tankards carrying the BITS logo – a much appreciated free gift to assist in their enjoyment of the Scout brew prepared specially for the convention by beer maestro Derrick. An extensive buffet of Indian fare just a few steps away from the Lodge provided the opportunity to socialise and refresh players after their travel, refuelling them for the games running that evening: investigating a corrupt government; recovering a lost Scout ship; fighting off a monster at a research base; and guiding an Azhanti High Lightning through hostile Zhodani space!
Post-game analysis was held in the 24-hour bar, where players and referees could exchange anecdotes and humorous stories (old and new) well into Saturday morning... until even the hardy few admitted defeat and headed for bed.
Saturday morning the Traveller kicked off after a lazy breakfast with another four games: visiting (yet another) suspicious remote research base; pulling apart a military base for scrap; escaping a prison moon; and investigating an Ancient site. A skirmish using cool miniatures was just one of the highlights of the morning games. On-tap coffee and plentiful Danish pastries, bagels, and fruit (provided by BITS) kept everyone alert and in fine form until lunch.
With everyone limbered up for the afternoon slot, the referees dived in with the Living Traveller helping Aslan traders recover stolen cargo; finding a missing Scout team; a sequel to the famous Skyraiders trilogy; and... yet another mystery research base!
Saturday evening and supper was either a visit to the Spice Land Indian restaurant, or a delivery of pizzas and Chinese takeaway from nearby Sawtry. Stomachs replete, the gamers returned to the fray: another Living Traveller scenario; freedom fighters planning a starship hijack; another Scout ship recovery mission; and a noble dinner party!
After a triumphant denouement to the games, many again took the opportunity to relax in the bar, relishing the chance to relate their adventures. Several games of Fluxx games challenged everyone’s ability to switch thinking modes, with the game’s goals and rules changing with every card!
Finally, Sunday morning dawned – though not too early, which was a relief for those who’d spent two late nights of chatting and playing card games in the bar. A longer six-hour slot saw a second run of the corrupt government investigation “Thorny Problem”; a follow-up to the previous day’s Scout expedition; the heroic Terran navy taking on the Vilani; and surviving a crash on a remote planet.
All too soon, TravCon was drawing to a close: attendees took the opportunity for a final look around the sales tables – books, miniatures and more from all the Traveller eras were available, as well as “bring-and-buy” gaming stuff which attendees could sell with a percentage going to charity.
Andy began the closing session by auctioning the last of the specially brewed Traveller beer that Derrick had so kindly donated. Andy continued with the awards: the Starburst for Extreme Heroism for the most heroic act by a character during the con; and the Ping... F*** It award for the most awful foul-up from poor dice rolls, bad decisions or extraordinary circumstances!
SEH Award Winner Derrick Jones accepting his award from Andy Lilly
This year the SEH (a beautiful acrylic trophy) was won by Derrick Jones for role-playing ‘The Mother’ – one of the survivors of a lifeboat crash who, while suffering amnesia fiercely defended herself against pirates with an assault rifle while carrying her baby in her other hand. The PFI award went to Tom Zunder, who was part of a team trying to rescue hostages from a “beanstalk” capsule. Jumping from one capsule to another was the first challenge which he barely achieved. Jumping back while carrying one of the hostages was another challenge but he survived... however, what won him the award was that the valuable hostage wasn’t so fortunate, slipped from Tom’s grasp, and was last heard screaming profanities as he fell the very considerable distance to terra firma.
PFI award winner Tom Zunder accepting his award from Andy Lilly.
The PFI award always has multiple strong contenders: runners up included the delightful moment when a low social standing character at a garden party – thrown by Duke Norris – managed a double-one on his Carouse throw as he tried to chat up three charming young female nobles. He was unceremoniously ejected from the function, the referee decreed, for inappropriately pinching one of the ladies! Another contender demonstrated that hovering only one storey above a bunch of live grenades just after dropping them (in a failed attempt to throw them through a window) was not the best of ideas...
Andy rounded off the convention with the proud announcement that £125 had been raised for the charity Help For Heroes. He emphasised that TravCon’s appeal was a combination of the great attendees and the heroic referees who ran games throughout the weekend. He expressed his heartfelt thanks to everyone who had contributed to the convention, and encouraged potential new referees to come next year with their own games. Andy concluded by conveying everyone’s thanks to the Redwings staff who are so welcoming and patient with the TravCon gamers descending on them for the weekend.
“I really appreciated the opportunity to continue the long-running game arc of BITS’ In Search of Angels.”
“My best memory was planning to stick a cobbled-together lightning attractor to a rooftop prior to a break-in in the middle of a raging storm, massively outnumbered and somewhat outgunned, with only a mad scientist armed with a poisoned pizza as a backup plan.”
“I really felt I'd visited a bit of Mora and experienced its dockyard culture.”
For all of you who fed back that you wanted to book ahead for TravCon12, we are glad to be able to announce it will be held at the same venue on the weekend of 2nd-4th March 2012. Please make sure you book early as places are sure to go quickly. We look forward to seeing you again in 2012!