Owlbear and Wizards Staff 2019

I measure my progress through the year with family birthdays and gaming events… Convergence marks the start of the con season in early March, then DevaCon in April, UK Games Expo in May and BurritoCon3 in July, then it’s the inevitable slow down over summer with folks on holiday and fewer game opportunities. Owlbear and Wizards Staff (OBaWS) fires off the second part of the con season, followed by BurritoCon4 in October and Grogmeet in November. It was with great excitement I looked forward to OBaWS, held in leafy Royal Leamington Spa.

This year I decided to make a full weekend of it and stopped in a nice B&B with fellow gamers Julian & Sue, Lee and Graham. It was great to have some gaming chat over breakfast! Everything needed for the weekend was within easy walking distance – pubs and the venue.

The Friday evening was a nice social event, catching up with old friends and making new ones over beer and a fantastic curry with more booze and food on the Saturday evening after the main event. Of course gaming is the main focus of these cons, but socialising is a big part of it as well.

Julian, Sue and Paul too, Blythy Dirk and James

OBaWS is held in The Band Factory, a nice sized venue with 13 tables and loads of great games on offer. Matt the organiser did an amazing job of putting the whole thing together with Samosas for lunch, and drinks and biscuits available throughout the day – the kitchen was the main meeting place, it was great to catch up with the many gamers I’ve come to know over the last couple of years. GM’s received nice goody bags with some OBaWS dice and a nice OBaWS dice tray, a lovely touch.

The main game room with additional tables in the kitchen and upstairs – a properly busy con

Session 1: The Mad Queen’s Jewels (Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells)

I really didn’t get this adventure into a workable state until a couple of weeks before OBaWS; I couldn’t decide on which system to use and the overall idea for the session kept changing, but I nailed the adventure and went with Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells in place of my initial choice LotFP. Great players really made this game for me – Bruce, Erin, Mark, Phil, Tom and Turan really invested themselves in the game and SS&SS proved to be a great system, I’ll definitely be running it more often.

Heroes of Obediah Cromwell’s rebellion (left to right): Phil, Erin, Tom, Turan, Mark and Bruce

Unlike other con games I’ve ran recently this adventure was very much theatre of the mind with a few hand drawn maps, but no cardboard miniatures or detailed maps. This suited the nature of the adventure which was very open – rather than plan and execute a heist as I had originally planned, we had a “you’ve got the jewels, now you’ve got to escape” situation; there’s a load of content that wasn’t explored which I expected – the hope is I can run this adventure with multiple groups and each time they will have a completely different adventure. The finale to the adventure ended far better than I could have anticipated!

Notice the Judge Death pterodactyl head on the desk – a gift from the very talented Kaye Elling, was well pleased with that!

Session 2: Acting Up in Lankhmar (Dungeon Crawl Classics)

I’ve only played DCC with the GM Bruce Cunnington once before – it was at my first Expo back in 2017 (hard to believe Bruce!), and so I was desperate to play in one of his games again. I love Lankhmar and had heard great things about Goodman Games’ version, so I was made up to get a place in this game. Without giving spoilers, this was an adventure that oozed Lankhmar, in fact it highlighted to me why DCC and Lankhmar are such a great match – weirdness, larger than life characters, fast pace and a great sense of adventure left me wanting more. All of the players threw themselves into the game, with crazy schemes, and subtle and not so subtle machinations winning the day – in particular the way magic works in DCC and how it was used by the Wizards in the party really changed the game. Can’t wait to play it some more!

Theatres can be such dangerous places in Lankhmar…
But we survived… the iconic DCC players and GM photo

Even after the games we finished there were so many people to hang around with, so many folk to catch up with and chat to – it was great! After quickly dumping my stuff of at the hotel it was off to the Royal Pug for a night of booze and food with gaming pals old and new. Brilliant stuff.

This is a con with a big heart run by a well organised, generous and very hospitable host and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m already thinking about con games for 2020 and what I might run at the next OBaWS…

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