Big Bad Con 2018 Impressions

TL;DR: Best RPG convention I’ve attended so far!

Three weeks ago, I attended Big Bad Con in Walnut Creek, California. Last year, I had a chance to attend for a single day. This year, I was able to attend from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. During that time, I played seven four-hour RPG sessions, totaling a massive 28 hours of gaming in a single weekend!

Unlike most RPG cons, Big Bad Con has a strong emphasis on indie and story games. You’ll find many PbtA or Fate powered games, for example, but also many fairly obscure indie titles. No D&D Adventurer’s League or Pathfinder Society here (not that there’s anything wrong with either of these; other cons just cater more towards these games and experiences).

There were also a decent number of OSR games, though. I had a chance to play two awesome sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classics, for example, one of which was run by the adventure’s author.

I especially enjoy RPG cons as an opportunity to try out new (to me) game systems. This year, I was able to play:

  • 2 sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classics (OSR)
  • Crypts & Things (OSR based on Swords & Wizardry)
  • Part-Time Gods (Custom system, run by the author)
  • Dungeon World (PbtA)
  • Tachyon Squadron (Fate based)
  • Predation (Cypher System)

All of these were a ton of fun. I especially enjoyed the DCC sessions, as well as Part-Time Gods and Tachyon Squadron (normally Sci-Fi based, but this one was reskinned as Crimson Skies - a great fit).

The crowd was fantastic. I’ve rarely seen a more enthusiastic and inclusive group of gamers. I know this is something the Big Bad Con organizers deeply care about and work hard at, and they did an amazing job fostering this kind of environment.

Another thing that sets Big Bad Con apart from other local cons is the game signup system. Many cons use some sort of random draw based system, but this tends to make it difficult to get into your preferred games, especially if you’re looking to play a variety of games over the con.

Big Bad Con uses a staggered signup process: Roughly a month before the con, everyone can register for up to two games. A week later, they can register for another two games. Another week or so later, everyone can register for as many games as they want. All of this is first-come, first-serve, so you do need to ensure you log in as soon as registration opens up. But with this system, everyone has a good chance to get into at least some of their preferred sessions. And with so many awesome sessions available, it’s usually easy to find something you’re excited to play at any given time - even if it wasn’t your top choice.

I had a great time and will definitely be back next year!

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