26 January 2010

Kapcon 2010 After-action Report

This year I spent all 6 official and 1 unofficial sessions in the games on demand room. Here's the games played and the good and bad of running them like this.

Bad Family. Steve Hickey ran this, with me playing. It's the newest version of his long in-development game of dysfunctional family sitcoms. It was absolutely fantastic, with the only bump being one player who was quite out of sync with the tone the rest of the table. The game itself is significantly polished compared to my previous experience of it, although (as I told Steve) I suspect that there's still rather more structure around each scene than is actually required.

FreeMarket. This game is hard to pitch to a group. I find that I can explain what's cool about it if I have a chance to talk to one or two people for a few minutes, but to get a quick pitch to a room of expectant gamers, not so much. In any case, I managed to convince four to give it a go and they created some fun characters and a great MRCZ concept: guerilla redecorators. The first thing they did was make over a public cafe (they scrounged some junk, and recycled the cafe and junk together to change the cafe from tags: "Ephemera, Cafe, Utilitarian" to "Ephemera, Cafe, Luxurious"). Once this was done we got into the flow of it and the rest of the game went pretty well. They managed to generate enough flow by the end that we had time to have a virtual second session beginning and run through a MRCZ promotion round, which they won. Not without issues in a three hour round, but overall a success.

3:16. As expected, fun all round. Not the best game, though. I found that the players seemed in a more reactive mood, which doesn't suit 3:16 well. If they are all just waiting for the next encounter, it drags a bit. I was somewhat to blame as well - beginning to run out of creative energy as the afternoon wore on. I wasn't pushing enough for cool narration too, looking back. Despite all that, everyone enjoyed themselves so that's the main thing.

ACTION CASTLE! I played in this one. Hilarious! If you get the chance, play it.

Ganakagok. Played late on Saturday. Suffered from general tiredness of everyone and the short time we had to play it. The game still generated some great myth, and I had a great time (I think ACTION CASTLE! got my creativity kick-started). After this, though, I think Ganakagok really needs at least 3-4 hours to work. That we everyone can get their head around the mechanics and there's time to get several rounds of play in, rather than just one or two.

Lacuna. Sunday morning, I was so tired that I pushed Lacuna as matching my mind's state perfectly. I used the tactic of basically not telling the Mystery Agents anything, and it worked well. Mood was perhaps affected by a very loud game of 3:16 also in the room, although the random shouts and sound effects probably contributed well to our game's nightmarish aspects. Afterwards, I had a conversation with a couple of players about the game's form and structure, how the incomplete aspects fitted into the setting and play, and how Jared Sorenson likes to mess with basically everybody.

In A Wicked Age... Played by popular request of some people who had played it the previous day. We used the "God-Kings of War" oracle and had a good game with a clash of two nations, complicated by a devil-worshiping cult, a jealous god, and a mischievous djinni. My favourite moment was when I offered "The devil kills and eats you" as a post-conflict negotiation and was accepted (the character happily continued taking part in the story as a ghost). The epic battle between the wild tribe huntress and the city-state's general was also neat to watch.

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach: OVERLORD. I grabbed three players for this in the last session. We had a good session, although it took a little while for everyone to get the hang of setting up scenes to position themselves for reputation gains - not helped by a weak first scene on my part, which was really only rescued when another player jumped in to create some good adversity for me. Interestingly, this was the lowest body count of any Roach game I have been involved in, despite being set in a commando training camp and with all characters trained soldiers (this does not hold true if we include German soldiers during the D-Day event, however).

Games on demand as a whole was great fun this year. We ran a little more smoothly and got games going more quickly. There are still a few places for improvement, of course, so hopefully will be even better next year. I enjoy that a lot of people like to come in between rounds to chat about the games we have, as well. There's a relaxed, sociable atmosphere that I enjoyed - although sometimes I was a little tired to actually contribute much to conversation.

19 January 2010

Ganakagok - First Game

To prepare for wanting to run it at Kapcon, I ran a one-shot of Ganakagok last night.

The short version is that the game worked great, play ended up pretty much as the text implied it would. Perhaps more so, as the constant turning of cards to inspire narration kept giving us ideas in keeping with the setting.

The characters had perhaps a little weak construction (in terms of building Truth-vision, Change-hope and Change-fears that prompted immediate action), but the world building meant that as soon as play began stuff began to happen.

It turned out that we had a very small number of stars, so a short game. That was fine as we have a fairly short session anyhow (especially with all the preparation). The action fairly zipped along and the characters quickly fell into a love-triangle (square?) feud rather than attempting to deal with the coming changes.

Still, it gave us a good story and lots of fun alliance breaking and so on.

I suspect that the myth we made would be told by the descendants of the Nitu as the last sins committed under the old ways, before the new ways gave them a better way of life.

02 January 2010

Brief notes on new game purchases.

I bought myself a few new games recently, and here's my impressions of them after a first read through.

The Roach Returns. Two new settings for The Shab-al-Hiri Roach. They're Oxford, 1863 and a commando training school in England, 1944. Both have a few new cards to swap into the deck to add to the flavour, and new enthusiasms and so on to create the appropriate feel. All good stuff, and hopefully I'll get to try one or both of them at Kapcon.

Thou Art But A Warrior. I picked this up as a more-accessible version of Polaris, and it looks like it fits that well. Basically the same game, but the setting is the last days of the Arabian empire in Spain. Very nice to read, and lovely art. This will sit with Polaris waiting for a good chance to play one or the other.

Ganakagok. I picked this one up due to hearing so many good things about it online, and the fact that it has a custom card deck (I am a sucker for custom card decks). Basically, you play Inuit-ish myths, with details heavily inspired by card draws. There's some dice mechanics in the resolution too. Looks very cool - hopefully I can play soon. The mechanics look like they'll really push towards mythic types of characters and events. Plus, the tribe's world is bound to change and the mechanics slowly build up whether various aspects will end up ending well or badly.