Tuesday, September 9, 2014

PAX and Avatar World

So I was at PAX a week ago-ish and have been delaying my writeup, but here it is.

It was great! Let's hit the not-Games-on-Demand stuff first. I didn't play many video games that really caught my eye, but Miegakure (http://miegakure.com/) is a really bafflingly cool 4D puzzle platformer thing. Yeah, four dimensions. If that sounds bizarre to you, check out the site.
There was other cool stuff, but not much stood out.

Outside of Games on Demand (the volunteer service I was with to get my pass where I take a shift running games for a bunch of strangers who want to play a thing I am offering), I also played a co-op deckbuilding called Shadow Rift. It was pretty cool, but really needed a playmat or more diagrams or something to get it set up. I would totally play it again though.

Games on Demand:
So before I jump into the big triple feature Avatar World, my two other games I played at GoD.
~ I ran The Quiet Year for Ben, Dave, and Diana. I'd seen Dave before (I think he works with Gamma Ray), and Diana was around GoD with her husband a bunch of times through the weekend which was cool.

~ I played Monsterdraft, by Johnzo (aka John Aegard), with Ross and Robert and John himself. It's his new hyper-alpha thing that's a cool hex-crawl exploration game, meant not to craft a strong story experience but instead being a creativity-driven exploring game featuring monsters. He made this crazy cool oracle thing for generating ideas for both the environment of a hex as well as its denizens, and we drafted up a few elements from a couple decks that basically added up to (mechanically) a Lady Blackbird character. Creative stuff, but rough. Ross and Robert had just been at Twyla's Playtesting With Rigor panel, so they gave some pretty great feedback.

Okay, to the main event: I played a lot of Avatar World. Saturday evening, my first shift, I had out both of my sheets, for Monsterhearts and for Avatar World. After a little bit I had a signup for Avatar World, so I dropped the MH and waited for other players (and pitched aggressively). I got a lot of interested "wow, Avatar World? Is that what I think it is?" and "Is this running later this weekend at all?" which was nice. Even more surprising is that a lot of the interested parties actually came back to look a second time later in the weekend! I gave away a bunch of cards with the game's address.
Some of this had to do with THIS:
Drew printed and bound me two copies of the game. It's gorgeous - the pics don't do the material of the paper justice. I'm so crazy happy with it. <3 br="" drew="">

Within maybe a half hour, we kicked off with a three person group. We had Alex (another Games on Demand volunteer), Manu (another GoD, and fellow game designer - I played Finding Haven with him at GPNW and was a voice in his Cry of the Wilders), and Andrew (stranger). Everyone kicked ass. I offered both of my premises, the Red Mountain and the Festival of the Four. From my pitches they picked The Red Mountain, so this didn't get to be the test of the new premise.
Alex was The Earthbender, Andrew was The Waterbender, Manu was The Warrior. I had a really cool Sel this time, he was this Asian-inspired serpent dragon, blood-red scales and teeth and eyes of void, his true size masked by the Gate. Every time he needed to be more imposing,  yet more of his body slithered out of the gate. He was coiled above them, towering and terrifying. They defeated the corrupt Master of the Monastery and his spirit tiger. We had what was essentially a puzzle fight (though I didn't enforce it that way), and it felt really cool. I played some games with them about when they should have their lights on and off.
Everyone felt really satisfied with all of the choices available to them, both in playbooks and moves. All the Basic Moves had play, including Act Dishonorably, which has proven a bit of a black sheep. All my adjustments, especially player Tags instead of harm, worked great.

~ Sunday evening I didn't even bother putting out my Monsterhearts sheet, I pulled it off the table immediately. I wanted to play Avatar World. And it took a little time but not very long to gather together Noah (stranger), Orion (fellow GoD and regular gaming buddy), Jeremy (Orion's brother, also a GoD and regular gaming buddy), and Alex again! It's super exciting to me that I got a repeat player two days in a row, and another GoD to boot. Orion's played before as well, at ECCC.
Because I'd used my Red Mountain sheets, I offered both but established that I'd prefer to play Festival of the Four, especially since Alex had already played the other. Also I wanted to test my new thing :/
It went great! The things I built it to do (be more lighthearted, more social-based, with lots of seeds) all worked the way I wanted it to. Noah was on the Aristocrat (worked so so much better now that Speak Honorably can Tag), Orion was ten-year-old Firebender orphan Fenfang, Jeremy was the Warrior, and Alex was the Waterbender this time.
This time the airbenders actually were responsible for earthbenders' disappearance. Everything was good.

~ Monday morning I walked up to the table at 10am and watched the host put down my AvW sheet, and 30 seconds later I had a full 4-player game with a fifth asking if I'd be capable of handling one more. I said sure - five isn't ideal because of the more distributed spotlight, but these cons are the time to get as many folks seeing the game as I can handle. It was Tim (fellow GoD), Ed Turner (fellow GoD, designer of games), Aaron (fellow GoD), Daniel (stranger), and Michael (stranger). Tim was the late addition btw.
I had a bit of an issue that I'd run out of a couple of the playbooks (I was going to print out a couple more at Kinkos, but forgot that it was Labor Day), so I erased Genki and Panaku from my first game and cleared off the Festival of the Four sheets after asking them to pick a premise. Tim was more interested in social stuff than the combat, so Fot4 (FotF? I haven't decided which abbreviation I like more) was more fitting. We had an Earthbender (Daniel), an Airbender (Michael), a Scholar (Ed), a Waterbender (Tim), and an Aristocrat (Aaron), meaning only the Monk wasn't played over the weekend. We also had some cool age ranges with the characters, with two 40-50 year old characters and two 16-18 year olds in this game, which is cool to see alongside the 10 year old in the previous game.
This time the firebenders and a corrupt fake-guard-force were responsible for the Earthbenders, and they were rescued!

Basically everything went great. I see no rules changes to make. I saw a bunch of typos and stuff I'll get to fixing, but I saw nothing that needed me to rewrite the game again. Everyone was super supportive of the art, even before learning that I did it all myself, which is a GREAT feeling cuz some of it I worked really hard on.
I'm already looking forward to running the game in the future, and when I do cons in the future I think I'll put my GoD games as AvW and tSV. That's the next one that needs field testing once I do the next revision.
I hope to play more soon. Also I have posting plans for a thing pretty soon so look out for that. (also I started classes again today so we'll see how fast that actually happen)
End Recording,