diurnal_lee: Stick figure with arms raised, exclamation mark overhead, yellow on blue (squee)
[personal profile] diurnal_lee
I had an awesome time at CanGames this weekend, despite the unfortunately timed application of caffeine that prevented me from sleeping At All on Friday night. I got to roleplay for the first time with some terrific gamers, got to play or hang out with a whole bunch of great people whom I really only see this one weekend every year, got to overdose on the sheer yay!games!SQUEE of it all.

Except for a couple of pickup fantasy card games during my volunteer shifts, I played RPGs in every time slot.

Games I Ran

Breaking the Ice worked just swimmingly with two couples. I wound up with three players, all men, so I sat in as a player in one couple. As usual, it took a while to get through the initial learning stage of the first date. What surprised me this time around was how long it took the other pair to get through character creation. I guess I've developed a skill set there that I didn't even realize I had. We only managed to play through two dates per couple in the two hours, partly because we played each pair's first date sequentially.

For Shooting the Moon I had three players again, so I pretty much just played animate rule book for them and tossed in the odd suggestion, and was so engaged that I didn't have the attention to spare to play another run of BTI on the side. One guy, a habitual minis player, stated quite clearly mid-game that he was way out of his comfort zone, but continued gamely on regardless, and wound up contributing some truly awesome character moments in his narration. The story came out very crackalicious, as this game seems to when played by all men, and everybody seemed to have fun.

The Shadow of Yesterday had it's ups and downs. I had a couple of challenging players at the table balanced by a couple of players with good coping skills. Starting off with a cast of amnesiac characters was only partly successful. Storywise it was fine, but mechanicwise, well. Each character sheet was mostly complete. To represent the amnesia, I put a bunch of index cards in the middle of the table, half with keys on them, half with some combination of secrets and/or skills that made up something like a professional kit, all of them linked to the scenario in some way. I told the players that at any time during play, they could pick up one of each and add it to their character sheet, narrating how their character discovers that they possess these traits. This kind of worked, except that most of them didn't start to look for these opportunities until halfway through play. Until then, the players had to devote too much attention to learning the crunchy bits of the unfamiliar system, and flailing around trying to figure out what was going on. I think this scenario would be better played with a group that already knows the rules.

Fun was had, though, and some pretty cool story moments, so overall I consider it a successful game.

At my Primetime Adventures game, I almost had an all-women table, till I lost one when a spot opened up for her in a BSG game, and we subbed in a guy at the last second. What I didn't realize until the post-game chat was that the late-comer had missed my intro and thus the key piece of information that the game would be something like a reverse Galaxy Quest. He made a character that lent itself to a more mundane tone than the madcap SF antics the others had been led to expect, and I didn't catch it as a problem at the outset. In consequence, the character most suited to madcappery was a struggle to involve in the resulting plot. Must remember to explicitly agree on tone during creation stage in future. Also, he introduced this NPC that was totally cool and that I totally couldn't seem to use effectively because I couldn't figure out how to play him. I had an awesome time, though, fascinated as much by what was going on around the table as entertained by the scenes and puzzle-solving.

Games I Played

I tried three new-to-me RPGs this year.

I signed up for Dust Devils at the last minute after the game I'd registered for was cancelled, and I'm really glad that I did. We had some great scenes and interesting choices, and the best moment in the game was a moment of careful and considered arson, heartrendingly motivated by love and cowardice and desperation and beautifully narrated by the player. I pulled a character with Pride as her devil which, ironic, since pride is my personal bugaboo. Very cool story system. I approve, even though I'm not particularly keen on westerns.

I like to play in one of Dan's games every year because I enjoy his GMing style, which remains engaging for me regardless of system, setting, or genre. This time around I played Artesia. The system didn't do much for me, and the setting seemed to be your typical knock-off medieval european whatever, but the scenario was nice and juicy, and I loved the impact that the relative social levels of the characters had on their interactions with each other and with NPCs. We ran out of time, leaving things unresolved. Argh!

The most delightful surprise for me was the Little Fears, a horror game about children and the monsters they imagine, that it turns out hits a whole bunch of story kinks for me. I'm pretty sure I would have had a blast even if it weren't for the crackerjack prize in this particular scenario. The system was simple enough but didn't do much for me story-wise, though now I totally want to try Under the Bed, since I suspect it will bring the same genre of play with the added bonus of story support.

So what was this crackerjack prize? The GM told us we were a bunch of kids in an orphanage, sneaking out on a rescue operation. He handed out character sheets and had us introduce ourselves, and on the third player I got it, because his character was Dean, and the first two had been Ruby and Jimmy, called Cas by his friends, and in my hands I was holding a sheet for a boy named Sammy. When the other two came up Anna and Bobby, I thought it was convenient that the GM had cribbed all the names from the same show, because at least I'd be able to remember them easy.

But that was not the crackerjack prize, my friends. Oh no. Because it didn't end with the names. I had stuff on my character sheet like hazel eyes, and bookworm, and curious, and guided (which is the game's shorthand for having a strong set of moral principals), and WE TOTALLY PLAYED A SUPERNATURAL AU AND IT TOTALLY ROCKED! I kept wanting to jump up from the table and twirl around, hugging myself, but I didn't want to miss a second of any of it so I stayed put and played serious, innocent, six-year-old Sammy with all the creativity I could muster, and had so much fun that I was still flying high hours later despite having been awake for two days straight.

Ten-year-old Dean failed to get the car started, then got all mad when Cas managed to drive it. Later, Dean almost got himself eaten by a corn field. Bobby picked me up when we were running from that possessed tractor, and when he tripped, he threw me to Dean instead of saving himself. He got half-mauled as a result, it was totally gross. I broke cover while the big kids were thinking about shooting the scary tooth fairy, because I couldn't resist the chance to meet it, and all it did was give me a quarter. I used a map to fight a clown. Ruby shot scarecrows with flares and took out nine werewolves with novocaine grenades. Dean fought with a hockey stick because they wouldn't let him carry the gun. The awesome went on and on.

OMG, do I ever I adore it when my fandom and gaming intersect!
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December 2010

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