Chupacabracon 2017 Report

Hi gang! I just returned from one of my favorite gaming conventions, the always-fun Chupacabracon in Austin, Texas. This is the fourth year of Chupa, and I’ve been honored to attend it every year so far. There’s a wealth of great guests, programming, and fun to be had at this intimate little (350+ people) convention that always provides me with plenty of great ideas and excitement.

I arrived in Austin on Thursday and spent some time with my parents in town. In the evening, I got together with several of my friends at the hotel (Wyngate by Wyndam) and we went out to dinner at Jack Allen’s Kitchen; I had some excellent chicken fried chicken and got to catch up with Jeffrey Webb afterwards.

Friday kicked off with some panels about GMing and Session 0. I had a very distinguished list of panelists and, somehow, I ended up as moderator for both! The panels were decently well-attended and I came away with a lot of fantastic ideas about games, stories, and managing failure in RPGs.

One of the games running all weekend at this convention deserves special mention: Andy Solberg’s Labyrinth Lord game, “In the Shadow of the Goat.” It is even themed to chupacabracon and name-checks the convention’s mascot! Andy ran this as a drop-in, play all you want in 30-minute chunks, mega-dungeon event all weekend. The gameplay was very old school D&D, and included plenty of awesome adventure! We explored lairs, solved puzzles, and left funny notes in the book that every other player had access to read along the way. Aleena the Cleric, my character, fell in love, lost her love, avenged him, and got a little treasure along the way, mostly by praising the Lawgiver’s church every chance she got. It was SUPER FUN and I hope Andy runs it again next year.

In the afternoon, Ed Wetterman and the ETU gang put on their very own ETU tailgate party! This was a great celebration of this fantastic Savage Worlds setting, complete with a large crowd singing the ETU fight song, party games, and plenty of food and drink.

That night I got a special treat of my own: Denis Loubet had arrived to sign some copies of Strike Force, and he stuck around to get into Michael Satran’s game of Champions Complete: Starfall. Denis ended up playing the team leader, a role he’s excellent at! It was a real pleasure to sit at the table with Michael and Denis and play some awesome superheroic action. I played the superpatriot electric speedster, Skybolt: a surprisingly fun and effective character who has a very simple set of powers.

Saturday began with more panels, this time on game design. Once more I had a strong team of panelists, and once more, I ended up doing the moderating! We had some interesting discussions about where to start with design and what questions need to be answered as the first steps.

Afterwards, I played in the diceless storygame Eons Protocol with Wendy Reischl. It was one of my first times with such a freeform narrative experience, and I enjoyed it. I’m not certain my improv skills were quite up to the needs of such a thing, though.

I then was interviewed by Aaron Burkett for, a podcast that was interviewing most of the game designers at the convention. The interview was great and I’m very much looking forward to hearing them all once they’re available. That night, I participated in Savage Saturday Night in Sean Patrick Fannon’s Freedom Squadron game.

Sunday, the last day of the con, is always bittersweet. I hate that the convention has to end but it went out with a bang! We started with a brunch at Jack Allen’s Kitchen with the VIP attendees – delicious! After that, I got a chance to play in Sean Bircher’s Zorro game as Sergeant Gonzalez. Sean’s game was great: he even had a character sheet for Tornado! We rescued Zorro from the cruel Capitan before the Governor could arrive.

Sunday night ended with a fantastic dinner at the Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. The food there was simply mind-blowing. Cold-smoked steaks were devoured and praised by all as some of the best in the world.

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