Monday, June 30, 2014

Post-Go Play Northwest Post

Souleye and his VVVVVV soundtrack redone by FamilyJules7x? Count me in, forever. This is a really kickass album.

Hey there! Everything was amazing. The three best days in gaming. I love you all, Go Players. Sorry that I couldn't see the few people who were held up by sickness or timing - I hope to catch up with you soon! This includes Gary M, Johnzo, Jess, Ogre, and anyone else I couldn't see this weekend.

This weekend was a lot of work. I'm not a social person, and dense interaction is a really draining experience, but after a relatively solitary first-year experience at GPNW I try to push myself to my social limits now. Decided to step it up this year by not just spending my time with people the whole time but by trying to reach out and meet all the new people I didn't know, especially those who looked on their own or like new first-years. This meant a lot of "Hey, I don't think we've met, I'm Max, what's you name?" and "Do you want some company?" and "So what've you been playing?" and if you know me, stuff like that is basically my weak spot. But it payed off, and at least one of the people I introduced myself to I ended up hanging out with most of the weekend. New friends!

But you're reading here to figure out what I played, right? Let's break it down.

Robert ran Monsterhearts on Friday. Friday feels really far away - Jeremy Tidwell played with us, but I don't remember the last player's name (which I still feels quite ashamed about)! I was a Mortal, and the others were a Cuckoo and a Selkie. I was in love with the Cuckoo, and he was truly sociopathic. It was awful for all the characters. Oddly enough, each character came to the end of their arc by the end of the session - the Selkie got her pelt at the very end and was scared off of land living and turned away from humans entirely, I finally went through enough to break free of the Cuckoo, and the Cuckoo found out who his father was: completely ordinary, and he was left with no answers for all his hatred and manipulation. I liked the Mortal - I'll definitely play one again.

Saturday morning was Spirits of the Wild. SotW is Orion Canning's Game Chef game, which was a game only in the loosest of terms. It took the form of a video, showing words that were spraypainted onto a tunnel wall with glow-in-the-dark paint, which is really really cool but not a great means of communicating how to play. I played with Matthew Sullivan-Barrett, Julia, Karen, and of course Orion.
We did a lot of conversation about how to interpret that as a game, and came up with each starting with a phrase of our existing understanding of the Dark Future and then went around the con building (which was a five floor tower, which is an awesome environment for this sort of thing) taping up drawings of our current understanding of things trying to communicate them with no words at all. Others find them and try to interpret them in light of their own understanding of the Dark Future, and then try to communicate that new understanding through more pictures. We don't know which pictures are from who, or how old any given picture might be, so it made it pretty interesting. I got really into the cave painting-esque style of things. Common motifs were gender disharmony, transformation into monstrousness, bleeding hearts, and clocks. We then all met and shared what we came up with as our understanding of what happened. It was really interesting to see that we all came up with different things that definitely held elements of each others' initial understandings and elements, but were definitely unique depending on which drawings we actually noticed and in what order we found them.

On Saturday afternoon I ran Avatar World: The Red Mountain with a full roster. I'd made a silly mistake coming to the con - I carried my materials from my last game, but had forgotten to refresh them. As such, I had characters written on four of the sheets and no Earthbender. I also was missing the Red Mountain insert for the Waterbender though that wasn't a huge deal. I erased the old characters and didn't have any trouble with it in-game, thankfully.
The game was really good. It was also really long. Using The Red Mountain cuts down on the time issue and it still ran 4 and a half hours in a 4 hour slot. It was me running it, Joe on the Airbender, Andy on the Warrior, Kingston on the Monk, and Jay on the Aristocrat, all of which worked admirably. I had a couple of notes I made during the story's climb up the Red Mountain, surprise confrontation with a dethroned Sel, and final conflict with the Spirit Parasite Teres.
1) Harm on PCs is in the firing line. It's simply boring compared to Tags. On the other hand, Harm offers a degree of protection that narrative harm doesn't - I simply cannot kill you until I burn through all that Harm. I've not made a decision, but PC Harm is on the chopping block and the axe is in my hand.
2) This game is NOT meant for PvP, but that's absolutely what happened. I knew if I played it enough it would happen eventually, but now I know what it looks like. The imbalance between Tags and Harm is a concern, as is the extreme power of Commit Open Violence's Tags.
Kingston made mention of the possibility of requiring a certain number of Tags before something can be declared "out of the fight" but I've resisted that intentionally. It's bookkeeping, and some things really can be handled that fast. I may give players a buffer though, or maybe even an escape clause to death in the vein of Monsterhearts' going Darkest Self to avoid death.
3) Commit Open Violence's options are getting retooled. I had the seed of how to fix it and Jay solidified it, this one's a done deal. The "Deal little harm" option, which makes no sense anyway, is now "You don't impose a Tag," which also resolves a complication in the wording of the main text.
4) Joe played the Airbender a lot like a show Airbender! This sounds awesome until one discovers that the other players wound up on a slightly more serious tact because of the way the Red Mountain is set up. I'm not picking on Joe - "like the show" should be an entirely legitimate way to play an Airbender and I gave no prefacing of the tone of The Red Mountain (as I hadn't noticed it). Instead it showed me something necessary: I need to write a much sillier set of quickstart letters for a second premise that is more like the show's tone. Having both would give me a much better handling of the spectrum of ways an Avatar game could go. I don't have my seed yet, but I know I need one, and am excited to figure out what I'll be doing.

I should also mention that I'll be doing a new draft of the whole document sometime soon. Want to do some rewrites. Avatar World is getting up there!

Saturday evening I was able to be a part of a game of Anima Prime! Drew (aka Gray Pawn) was running, and our player crew was Kingston, Joe, Mike, Reagan, Tom (of Role Playing Public Radio fame) and myself. It was in Drew's setting for Anima Prime, the Ember Core, and it was really cool. It was a basic scenario called Until Death, inspired by the FFX wedding scene (which is entirely expected given Christian's love of FFX), and we were all super awesome. I was EVO, a bioaugmentation experiment subject who was used as a guinea pig for basically all new types of biomods, so when I finally broke free I quested to destroy the Helix Corporation for it. When I finally leapt into battle I'd already built up a bunch of strike dice, so when I hurtled into the doctor in charge of my experiments I shredded him to death in a single action. It was crazy. As I was the only player who'd played before I got to make my own character instead of using a mostly-completed pregen (because Drew only had 5).
Anime Prime is easily one of my favorite games. You may not get a ton of stuff done in a single session, but every single action makes you feel like you're this amazingly awesome hero.

Sunday morning I was going to skip out to go get breakfast but instead got into an ad-hoc game of Planarch Codex run by Jackson and played with Orion, Hanna(h?), and Daniel Wood. It was a really cool thing even though we basically did some roleplayed chargen and ran out of time. It was a great experience, even if there was no real rolling. I'd totally play again.

In the afternoon I played Finding Haven with Manu (it was his Game Chef game last year). I wanted to play this last year so am glad I could this year. Manu ran it for me, Julia, and Joe. We were earthbound rebels against the Demosians whose leader had been captured and taken for interrogation and Thought Therapy Re-Education. We rescued him and felt like awesome heroes doing it.
The system took some adapting to, but definitely worked. We had some feedback for modification, and all around it felt very productive and enjoyable. And since I did voice work for his Game Chef game this year (Cry of the Wilders) I got a shirt!

The last slot was Dungeon World, run by Drew. I hadn't known what I was going to do and was standing waiting for the Donut to begin when Drew pops by, asks if I'm doing anything, and when I tell him no immediately co-ops me into the game. I'm glad he did, because it was hilarious. Drew was running, and players were me, Kingston, Jay, John Powell, and John's nephew Warren. We played with original playbooks, Inverse World playbooks, and Grim World playbooks simultaneously. I'd never even seen the Grim World playbooks before! I played the Walker from Inverse World. It was definitely a bit broken, as Jay had warned the table, but I tried not to abuse it and it was really fun. The other playbooks were a Wizard, a Druid, a Channeler, and a Mecha.
It was funny how many references were stuffed into the Inverse World ones. I'm very glad Warren and his Mecha playbook both got my Gurren Lagann references. I did, however, have to check around the table if anyone knew the reference Irina was making for the Walker - they didn't, and neither did I, so that worked. I didn't want to be Croft or Ezio because that makes images in people's heads. I know now that Irina is either Irina Spalko for the Indiana Jones reference or Irina Mikitenko, a German Olympic runner and one of the best runners in the world. I was appalled that neither "Nathan" nor "Drake" was on the name list though.
The gonzo meter was kinda tipping in the entire time. That's to be expected of Sunday-03 though. So much giggly laughter.

 And those were the games I played! I think I'll mention my food though - when I'm travelling, and specifically when I'm staying somewhere that is not home, I try and go to places that I haven't done before or are local specialties or are new experiences for me. I had three not-cafteria meals, and they were all great and new.
I had Vostok Russian Dumplings as dinner on Saturday with Kingston and Joe and Jay and Andy. I've never had Russian dumplings before, they were really good actually! Thank you Andy for taking us there.
I had a burger at The Lost Lake in the middle of Pride-chaos at midnight on Saturday with Avery and Jay and Joe. Thanks to Evan for pointing us there!
I had a burger at the Luna Park Cafe with Andy and Drew and Joe and Jay (I guess I ate with Jay and Joe lot!). Thank you very much Jay for suggesting it!

Thank you everyone for my best Go Play yet! I'm excited by all the excitement I felt for Avatar World and for the next time I can see you all. I'll be at PAX, and am considering both Dragonflight and GeekGirlCon (GGC is complicated - that's my birthday weekend). If anyone knows what's happening with Technicolor Dreams this year I'd love to know.

Later y'all.
End Recording,

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