Savage Saturday at Tacticon!

Labor Day weekend I was at Tacticon in Denver.  It is mostly a role-playing/board game/tactical and historical miniatures Con.  I posted pictures in several places over the course of the weekend: Day 1, Day 1 Part 2, and Day 2.  This is the full report for the last game of Day 1!

If you are a role-player and you haven’t heard of or tried Savage Worlds, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  The game was released by Shane Hensley in 2004 and immediately won Origin’s Player’s Choice.  It is a generic RPG, meaning that it is a ruleset that can then be fleshed out and tweaked as needed for different campaign settings.

Savage Worlds is big in Denver.  There is an organization, Rocky Mountain Savages, that organizes large groups of Savage Worlds games.  One of their big events for the year is “Savage Saturday” at Tacticon in Denver (and GhengisCon in February).  Savage Saturday is a series of over a twenty RPG games, all based off of the rule set, running during the 7-11PM time slot at the Con.  Afterwards, there is a big prize giveaway.

We picked the same GM as last year, Neal Hyde, because he did such a great job.  This year, he was running a Call of Cthulhu-style Savage Worlds game.  Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu RPG is one of my favorite RPGs, and unless you run it yourself, the odds of you finding a game of it at a Con are slim (maybe Gen Con).  CoC RPG is pulp 1920s noir and investigation and I hearts it.  The Savage Worlds version of the world is set during WWII, because why not bring Nazis in it as well, right?  It is called Achtung! Cthulhu.

Our session was a lot of fun.  Jamie, Jon and DJ were there with me.  Jack wasn’t feeling well so he slept.  What really made this game awesome is that Neal interjected real historical events with the game.  Specifically, we were part of a recon force that went in before Operation Fork.  Operation Fork was the allied invasion of the kinda-neutral and kinda-Nazi occupied Iceland in 1940.  At the time, Iceland was an independent neutral nation allied with Denmark and without a defense force.  When Germany seized Denmark, the Brits became concerned that they would try to “annex” Iceland as well and use it as a naval base.  That would have been disastrous for the Brits, because they’d be fighting a concentrated naval war from two geographic locations.  It was super fun to have this history interjected.  In this digital age, everybody started Googling Operation Fork as Neal was describing the situation.  I really appreciate GMs who make an effort to teach about history.  That is also a big part of why I like Cthulhu RPGs as well.  It is scary supernatural terror in the backdrop of history we can all learn about.

We started as a collection of British and American intellectuals and military personnel that MI:6 charged to go to Iceland and investigate Himmler’s sinister occult dealings there.  There were a lot of great role-players at this table.  I played a British archaeologist (a staple of Cthulhu games).  His character description described him as stout and curious and I gave him a very thick upper crust accent reminiscent reminiscent of some of the Family Guy portrayals.

Of course, I played it thicker, duller, and much more serious.  I was lucky enough to go to Britain in June this year with my lovely wife and trust me when I say that you have to look pretty hard to find the stereotype.  The Scots, in particular, in cities, do not have the thick accent you’d expect.  Jon does a great Scottish accent though and so he switched his character’s origin from Irish to Scottish and went with it.

IMG_0687My wife at Stirling Castle in the Trossachs, Scotland.


Any true nerd should visit the Harry Potter exhibit at Leavesden Studios.  Laura and I both love Harry Potter and it was well worth the trip. The Model in the background is almost 20 feet high, used to shoot establishing shots of Hogwarts.

People at the table got a real kick out of the way that Jon and I played our characters.  We got on the boat and I hammed it up a little carrying all of my instruments and two umbrellas in case one got lost!  The crew of the HMS Bristol did not appreciate my character and it was a good conflict to introduce into the game.

When we arrived at Iceland there was surprisingly little resistance.  We were directed to the German consulate and snuck in the back door.  We subdued an old Nazi, his wife and an officer taking a bath upstairs.  We got some clues to go to a location.  Some of our party almost went crazy viewing an ancient statue locked in a safe.  Any good Cthulhu game has a mechanic whereby your character is subject to levels of fear that can drive them insane.  I really like what the Savage game does with this. There are three levels of fear:  Nausea, Horror, and Terror, and each can give you dementia points.  Enough dementia points can start to whittle away at your Sanity.  Nausea is seeing a ghastly wound.  Horror is seeing a murder of a friend.  Terror is Cthulhu-esque time and space world-view shattering events.

We were in the right place.  We disabled the Nazi vehicles except for the one we road in and made out way up the volcano.  DJ and I interjected periodically with some information about volcanism in Iceland because we’re earth scientists and that’s what we do!  We encountered a wounded person on the side of the road and discovered that he had been infected by some sort of illness that caused bruising on his body.  As we continued up, we encountered a Nazi platoon.  Battle ensued and we worked out way up to a cave where a leader-type was working on a portal that led to Nazi Germany, as a clear pre-text to an invasion force.

As we worked our way into the Cave, any wounds we caused on the Nazis caused them to sprout grotesque tentacles from their faces.  The work of the Great Old One was here.  We managed to dispatch all of the Nazis, but Cthulhu games rarely end in you getting out in one piece.  All of us came down with radiation sickness and two of our party died.  Still, to actually stop an occult-like ritual is a big success in a Cthulhu game!

Next time:  Day 2 summarized.  My new tactical tabletop love is the X-wing Miniatures game.



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