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Dexcon After Action Report

Started by Luke, July 18, 2005, 07:53:06 AM

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Hart, Dro and Thor and I are just back from Dexcon. We were there from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. When we arrived, IPR Brennan, Tony LB and Ben Lehman had the demo area/booth set up.

For this con, the kind folks at Dexcon gave us three hallway tables outside the RPG room. We used one for merch and two for demos. We also had Brennan's formidable display rack.

Tony and Ben and the infamous Mr Michael Miller humbly supported by myself and Thor running BW rocked the house with a full schedule of small press rpg titles -- demos, 2-hour games and 4-hour games.

Friday, I ran unscheduled demos, maybe three or four. Friday night I was set to run scheduled demos. No players for me! Haven't had that in a while.

Saturday, during the morning and afternoon, the rpg area was dead. I was scheduled to work the booth and to run unscheduled demos. I made two sales all day and ran one demo (in about 8 hours of sitting around). I also will admit that Dro and I were fairly lazy by our standards. We tried to hook interested folk, but we didn't hit the other areas of the con and try to solict the, um,  uninterested.

I did turn on the juice Saturday night and managed to wrangle 10 players for the new Heist game. It was an immently satisfying session, but it's worth noting that about half the folks there had at least a passing familiarity with BW and had been in a game prior to the con.

It's also worth noting that Mike Miller played in this game and was EXCELLENT. A joy to have at the table. (Yes, Judd played, too, but we all know how fun it is play with him. Judd, you slut!)

Sunday was dead for me. I managed to scrape four players together to run the Gift: two were legit players who'd never played the scenario (but already owned BW), the other two were my brother Hart and Judd (that gaming hussy) who had played the original Gift scenario. This is the second time I've run the revised version of the Gift. I think this is shaping up to be better than the original.

And now for the numbers...
Ripples from Carcosa -- 1 (Oscar Rodriguez' award winning CoC campaign)
My Life with Master -- 2 (MM ran a session of this in the IGE)
Pulp Era (by James Carpio) -- 3 (he ran two sessions of the game at the con)
NPA -- 3 (MM ran Discernment and Pretender. This definitely affected sales.
Monster Burner -- 4 or 5 (lost count at one point)
Burning Wheel -- 9
and the big dog...
Dogs in the Vineyard -- 13 (5 from my stash and 8 from Tony's)

I'd love to hear Tony's numbers for Capes.

Overall, Dexcon was ok. I managed to break even for the con. Which really isn't bad. Even so, I felt I could done better. Something was missiing for me -- mainly any and all interested folks on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.


PS Congratulations are in order for Mr Tony LB. His game seems to have been nominated for a prestigious award...


Ohhhhhh DEXCON!

I had a different experience from Luke, on several levels, which I think he probably knows.

I have smaller slots (4 people) but I never had one that wasn't filled to the gills and beyond.  And all my slots were on wednesday (Dogs), thursday and friday, off-peak hours (afternoon and midnight).  So my impression was that the roleplaying was hopping.  I know that Ben had a bit of trouble getting folks for early Polaris demonstrations, but that Bill White had pretty full houses for Ganakagok, and that Michael had a nice array of people for With Great Power.

And, honestly, if you want to know what I think makes the difference?  Dogs, Ganakagok, Capes and WGP ran at Dreamation.  It's very much the same group of people, and they talk amongst themselves in the six months between cons, and figure out what they're going to want to play.  Burning Wheel didn't have any presence at Dreamation, and I don't think it had really inserted itself into the Double Exposure zeitgeist... I'll be interested to see how much demand there is for it at Dreamation in January.  Even if Luke doesn't show up (which he totally should) I'm sure we can wrangle somebody to run a slot.  I bet it would fill and beyond.  But that's just a theory.

I... you know what, I think I'm going to have to unpack this experience little by little over the next few days.   I just tried to figure out what to write up as the "cool experience" of the convention, and my brain almost exploded with options.  I'll have to give an overview, and other folks who were in attendance can jump in with their thoughts, and then I'll come back as things occur to me.

Everybody who ever sells a game should come to a Double Exposure con, just so that they can be properly pissed off at the way most convention organizers treat indie game publishers.  Double Exposure treated us like we were rock stars.  Better, they treated us like we were their friends.  Better, they treated us like they were incredibly lucky to be friends with us, because we were rock stars.  Yeah, seriously, that's my take away.  Double Exposure folks showed us, at every moment, that they felt blessed to have us at the convention.  Vinny, their convention floor-man, the busiest man at the convention, sought me out at lunchtime when I was in the middle of a game, with a tray of sandwiches.  And then he just said "Tony... you like chicken parm, right?" and handed me a sandwich.  And... yeah... maybe he got lucky.  But from his face, I think he actually remembered from Dreamation, six months earlier, the trivial detail of what I chose when he came around with a tray of sandwiches.  And this guy, this is one of the two top head honchoes of the convention.  I felt like my senator had hand delivered my tax return.

It was great watching Ben get his game on with Polaris demoes.  He was (understandably) a bit shaky in the first ones, wednesday night and thursday morning, but by the time the crowds got there he was an enthusiastic and stylish presenter.  And, of course, the game rocks.  Listening to him talk about his last scheduled slot (where things finally filled up) is a wonderful demonstration of why RPGs are not fictional text.  The "story" sounds like a bowl of spaghetti... but the individual moments tell me in no uncertain terms that everyone there knew exactly what was going on at all times and was rocking the socks off of their world and each other.  His character ended alone on a plain of ice in a spreading pool of blood, watching the woman he loves walk away forever.  And that's just one piece of dozens he can recount, all equally amazing.  I don't know how they all fit together, but I can tell that they do.

I saw both Ganakagok and Bill-White-presenting-Ganakagok six months ago and... well... both were a trifle shaky.  Not now.  Now everyone who plays it comes out raving.  I wish I cuold have got in on a game, though I did demo with him and... it's totally cool.  I rave.  Oh, and if anyone asks you, the games premise is "Eskimo Punk."  I helped with that.  I'm so proud.

In fact, the interaction around the booth and in the room party was amazing.  What I loved was that with all the folks who (no offense intended either to those absent or present) awe the golly-gee-willickers out of me absent from the convention, I felt no obligation to engage in "theory on the deep level."  So we'd sit there and shoot the shit about how Kirby was different from Stan Lee, or where the line is that separates "punk" from "cyber-" in cyberpunk novels.  And we'd just be goofin', talking about... y'know... whatever... and then suddenly somebody would say something like "Of course you realize that you just said that the difference between these two literary creative forms is mirrored in RPG-play by a difference in how you organize the connections between players and GM" and the person would say "Oh, yeah, of course, but... THE HEY?  Did I really just say that?  That's COOL!"

If Ben does not post a whole mess of articles about the stuff we discussed, I'm going to be very angry at him.  Because then I'll have to do it myself, and I just don't write as well as he does.

And then the gaming.  Oooooh, the gaming.  I had pretty much continuous demoes, with short breaks, from mid-day thursday through until the end of the convention.  People would wander by the table and say "Hey, can we play some more Capes?" and I'd say "Hell yeah!  Let's grab some people who don't know about it," and then we'd be off.  One such session ran seven hours on a single story line involving unrequited love, the rigors of justice, hatred, the melancholy sadness of getting old and watching the younger generation take up the role you left behind, the incredible comic-booky wierdness of getting old when some of your friends don't age, the bond between hero and sidekick, betrayal, vengeance, and of course Major Victory's disembodied brain.  Yeah, that one probably needs an actual play post, but it's going to take a while to twig out how to make it a narrative.

One thing I noticed:  I saw no poor roleplaying happening at our booth or in our slots.  The only things I saw happening were edge-of-my-seat, laugh-out-loud, best-of-my-life roleplaying.  On wednesday I went in, and there were afternoons in my teen years that were surrounded with a golden glow of memory, of the great camaraderie, the way people could instantly bond over a game and their part in it.  Now, on monday, I still remember those fondly, but... they're no DexCon.  We were laughing, and shouting and carrying on.

Damn, guys, I thought these Forge games were supposed to be all cerebral and mature!  We were doin' all that addressing of theme stuff, but we were still falling out of our chairs with belly laughs, often at the look on someone's face when just the right thing was said to put them in some impossible moral position.  We were laughing at the maturity.  What's up with that?

And that's the other thing I noticed:  Many of my players were young.  Like fifteen young.  Didn't I hear somewhere that this hobby is getting dominated by old geezers?  Not at our booth, brother.  I sure saw that pattern at (say) the RPGA events I wandered through, but over at our booth it was more than half college kids or younger, open to anything, filled with zeal for the hobby, but not... y'know... defined by the hobby.  It's this thing they do, and they love it, just like a lot of other things they do and love.  Healthy, that.

What blows my mind is that they know that the RPG form can do all these wondrous things.  I'd sit there and say "And you don't need to track hit points or any of that," and they'd be like "Hit points?  Who tracks hit points?"  Well, sonny, in my day if we wanted to express our characters or rise to a challenge we had to walk through hit points and encounter tables up to our shoulders.  Uphill.  Both ways.  God I feel old.

The good:  If what I've seen is any indicator (and it may not be) we are going to see some really amazing things happening in our hobby.  There are folks out there for whom these new games aren't a revolution.  They're just "what roleplaying is."  They take to it like a fish to water.

The bad:  These kids have no money, man.  I mean, they would show me their poor empty wallets.  I gamed with folks for hours, and hours, and hours, and they couldn't afford to buy Capes.  Sales were okay, but only okay.  For the record, I sold eight copies.  I'm not really pleased with that.  I have had a noticeable surge (even just monday morning) in web sales of the PDF, and I'll be talking with Brennan to see what happens on IPR, but that's going to be clouded by other issues.  The basic thing is:  many of the folks I want to game with, the folks who I got to game with at this con, they didn't just plunk down the money to come to the con.  They scrimped and saved for it.  I admire that, but it hurts my sales.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

Ben Lehman

My experience of DexCon is somewhere between Luke and Tony's.  Probably not surprisingly.

I didn't have anything to sell at the con, so it was very much the Booth Monkey experience, although there was a lot less traffic than GenCon, clearly.

I ran a *ton* of short demos, and really refined my technique for them.  Most of these were an absolute blast.  You could totally tell the moment that people switched into the Polaris way of thinking and stopped "trying" to do stuff and hoping the dice would let them.  I now consider myself very prepared for GenCon demos.

My long demos, as Tony noted, had only a couple of sign-ups, not enough to run in all cases except one.  This wasn't the end of the world for me, really.  The one that did run (with Kat Miller, Shawn de Arment and  a friend of Kat's) was spectacular.

I also produced Overtime, the single greatest PTA game I've ever played.  I played in Kettle Lake (Dogs), Dictionary of Mu (Sorcerer), Ganakagok, My Life With Master, and Capes.

I had a really good time.


P.S.  DexCon staff were generally awesome towards us, with a couple of exceptions.  Highly recommended.

Rob Donoghue

So, I didn't have anything to sell or even pitch, really.  Dresden is too far out, Fate is something it hadn't even occurred to me to pitch (I mean, it's not like we sell it), and Spirit of the Century is too new in the mind.  Instead, this was an opportunity to try a few games, but mostly hang around the indie booth, pitch in to cover when necessary, and occasionally help haul that damn display rack around.  I ran one slot, but mostly it was an opportunity for me, a con novice, to look around and see how things fit together and get a sense of what worked and didn't.  A bunch of what i saw is, no doubt, old news to the more experienced hands, but a lot of it was eye opening to me.

Most notably, I walked away completely sold on the power of the demo and the pitch.  The "pitch", as I'm using it, is the five minute demo.  It's what you can show someone who is interested in the game without needing to lock them down for a half hour or so.  Not only is it better for the casual browser, but it also allows the vendor to do more demos in a given period of time.

Right off the bat, my jaw dropped at just how well Dogs in the Vineyard pitched.  Now, some of that is just the strength of the game, but the real power of the pitch was a simple situation (Taking no more than a sentence or two to frame) that gave a chance to showcase both the mechanics and the theme of the game.  It was amazing to watch.

The fascinating contrast was to Tony's Capes demos.  Now, I love Capes, but it's a long way from traditional, so it takes a little more work to get people to the "ahh" moment.  Tony could have gone for something like the Dogs demo - a quick, easily expressed situation like "Goal: Hurt the hostages" but he did something that, I think, worked a little better.  He ran slightly longer demos (eventually, vastly longer demos) but they were much closer to open games, so there was really a chance to pick up inertia.  If anything, I wish there had been some way for the demos to be at a bigger table, since I swear that once he got rolling, Tony would have filled any number of seats as passersby got interested.  And that said, by keeping it a multi-player experience, you got a lot of the benefits of a pitch, even though it took more time.

He also had an awesome dirty trick in the form of props.  For those who haven't seen them, he effectively uses colorforms to allow people to create a character just by taking a power and a personality and clicking them together on the character sheet.  It's fast, easy and fun and from a presentation perspective, it means you could say "Don't have time for the demo?  Just try chargen, it only takes a minute" and then rope em in.

From another direction, you had Burning Wheel.  I don't think it necessarily had a pitch - I don't think the game is particularly friendly to it, but they managed to produce very robust demos.  Not to discount the talent of the presenters, but the thing that really made it work was the level of organization they brought to the matter.  BW is a potentially dizzying system to walk in blind, and the hand outs, combat sheets and whatnot all made it much easier to use right out the door.

Lastly, I got to watch Ben's Polaris pitch evolve over the course of the con, and while I think he benefits greatly from a shill :), it grew visibly sharper over time.  He's got another hard sell - Polaris is also very non-traditional - but the last pitches I saw jumped right to what _made_ it different, so there was less time spent getting your head around it.

So from all that I walked away with a strong desire to come up with a pitch, something as tuned as the DitV one, but with some of the strengths I saw in the other demos and pitches, and that alone was worth the time.

I also learned a valuable lesson in planning games to run.  I'd planned my one game for 4-6 players and I simply had not been properly prepared for only 2 people showing up, so my game ran far too short.  Educational.

On those occasions I ended up behind the table and describing games to people, I found myself desperately wishing for two things.  The first, was some sort of summary from the author, if only so I could intelligently say what a given game was about if it was one I had never seen before.  The second, for the games I did know, was a character sheet.  When describing what makes, say, TSOY different from D&D, I wished I'd had a character sheet in front of me that I could have used as a prop.

There were other practical things, like expecting Saturday night dinner to be the most problematic meal, but they were more general.  All in all, I had a really good time, and it was a pleasure to meet a bunch of names.

-Rob D.

PS - Oh, now here's a bit of potential research.  I think sales suffered somewhat from the ATM running dry on Sunday morning, and I wonder if it might be worthwhile for Con organizers to make sure that any ATM on site gets a refill visit a little past the midpoint of the Con.

PPS - Based on a discussion with Luke, I think I may break down and write the Fate: Luke Fox edition, and see about putting it all on one page. :)

PPPS - I will cheerfully fight my way through a mob for Ganakagok when it comes out.
Rob Donoghue
<B>Fate</B> -

Andrew Morris

Quote from: Rob Donoghue on July 18, 2005, 06:01:25 PM... it means you could say "Don't have time for the demo?  Just try chargen, it only takes a minute" and then rope em in.
No kidding. I saw a very interesting moment when Tony hooked a guy who was obviously on his way to something else. He just pulled out the "Hey, come play Capes. You can create a character in less than 60 seconds, and play it in less than five minutes." The guy visibly wavererd for a moment, then plunked right down in a seat. Then, of course, he played for way longer than five minutes. Very cool. I also like that Tony doesn't ask people if they want to play, he tells them to play. People are stupid -- nine times out of ten, they'll just do what you tell them to do. And in this case, it's for their own good.

Quote from: Rob Donoghue on July 18, 2005, 06:01:25 PMI also learned a valuable lesson in planning games to run.  I'd planned my one game for 4-6 players and I simply had not been properly prepared for only 2 people showing up, so my game ran far too short.  Educational.
As one of the two players, though, I had a lot of fun. One problem, though, which I believe I mentioned to you, was that my character was kind of a one-trick pony. I found out early on that the only workable strategy for him was to hit hard, hit fast, and save nothing for defense. If I didn't put down whatever supernatural monstrosity I was facing in one shot, I was screwed. If that hadn't been the case, I think I could have enjoyed the mechanics more. As it was, I will remember the final scene, where Biff plowed through the vampire ranks. As I said, lots of fun. Oh, and for the record, running short is way better than running long. I had to leave a game of Ganakagok because we were running into the next time slot, and I had another game scheduled. Depending on when the game is being played, getting a unexpected break can be an awesome thing at a convention.

Quote from: Rob Donoghue on July 18, 2005, 06:01:25 PMPPPS - I will cheerfully fight my way through a mob for Ganakagok when it comes out.
You'd better watch out for me, cause I'll be in that mob as well.
Download: Unistat

Robert Bohl

So this is Rob, Judd's friend (I should make that my board name or post more).  I met a lot of you at DexCon.  I'm going to talk about my general impressions and what I took away with me after the con.  I'll talk about some of my actual play experience in a separate Actual Play post.


I continue to be impressed at the hepness and "wow, this is just a cool person" factor that I meet every time I meet another new Forgeite game designer or game-groupie thereof.  I have been role playing since the early Eighties and DexCon is only my second convention.  A large part of that was I saw con people as socially retarded and uncomfortable to be around.  Well, that's still mostly true but it happens that there's this nice island of normalcy in the maelstrom to which one can attach one's self.  Being at a convention makes me think I might know what it feels like to be a black person watching a minstrel show.  So, that fear and distaste is still there, but it is couched in meeting and hanging out with some of the coolest people I've met in gaming--hell, some of the coolest people I've met, period.  (PS: I know that some of that leaves me sounding like a judgmental prick, and if that offends anyone, I apologize sincerely.)


Most of this is probably going to be critical.  Not because I didn't enjoy myself--I almost always did--but for the simple reason that gripes and worries and criticism stand out and are more interesting to talk about.

I think I might try to create a game or seven now.  I came away from this with a drive to do so, and lots of idears.  More on those in coming days/weeks/months/years.

I find myself growing slightly worried about social resolution mechanics.  I am uncomfortable with the idea of the free-form role playing time being stopped and getting, "This has to be a resolved conflict now."  I realize that most of these social mechanics let you role play while you do them, but it's less an issue of yes-role-play versus no-role-play, it's more of a yes-unstructured versus no-structured.  I see their benefit.  I wouldn't want to utterly get rid of them.  It's more a frequency or weight of use than it is me advocating that these things have no place.  They're pretty cool on their own.

I've noticed a lot of games seem to have a players-take-a-turn thing that I'm not totally cool with.  Each player takes a turn, then the next player does, and so on.  In the extreme, the entire game can be this kind of turn-based thing.  The upside is that most of the time, people can play inside of other peoples' turns, but there's something about the lockstep nature of it that rubs me wrong.

Again, none of the above concerns should at all be taken as a slam on anyone.  I thoroughly enjoyed every game I played this weekend (barring one or two, and none of you here have anything to worry about on that score).

EDIT:  Something I forgot.  I came to the epiphany that one of the most important things to me in how much I enjoy a roleplaying game is to what degree my characters are effective.  If they can do what I want them to do with a reasonable chance of success, I am likely to enjoy the game.

EDIT2:  Here is my actual play thread for the games this weekend.
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
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Michael S. Miller

Selfishly, I had a great time at DexCon. A great deal of that was 'cause I was running a scheduled event nearly every timeslot. I'm always happiest at the table. I'm very grateful to Dro, Aaron, Brennan, Tony, Rob, Thor, Ben, Luke, & everyone else that kept an eye on the booth, answered questions and just let me run games.

And boy, did I ever! Friday saw the NPA's Pretender w/ Judd, RobNJ, and great guy named Steve. It was my first time running the game and it really surprised me in a good way. I was expecting something that needed more energy than it generated, but the game engine hummed along of its own accord.

After 2 hours of Pretender, Steve was replaced by our own Ben Lehman for 2 hours of grim academic parody called Discernment. It was a great deal of fun even if I wasn't named Scholar Emeritus. Harumph.

I had the afternoon slot open, and not knowing what to do with myself in free time at a con, I hammered out some text for WGP and chewed the fat with Luke.

In the evening slot, I ran WGP for four players. I know that Shawn de Arment was there, and a few other regular Double Exposure con-goers. It went well, even if I forgot a rule of my own game.

Saturday started off with another WGP session. This one with three players: Rob Donaghue, Lisa Padol, and Lisa's friend Steve. I re-inserted the rule I  had forgotten the night before and the session soared up, up, and you get the idea.

Afternoon was another Pretender/Discernement double-shot. This time with my wife Kat, our good friend Michele, and Shawn de Arment. Both games went very well again. I'm really starting to relish the strategy aspect of Discernment that develops in play. Our subject, Kat, excaped our clutches, even though we *knew* what her Soul Quality was!

Evening saw me with my last open timeslot of the con. I figured I could kinda hang around and talk with folks who ventured too near to the display rack, or I could enjoy myself by actually *playing* in a game. So, I wanted to see how one of Luke's tabletop LARPs worked, and boy was I impressed. The scenario was all about a nest of rat-men, and it very much gave the impression of clutching, grasping vermin. Well done, Luke.

Midnight belonged to the Master. Ben had already informed me that after penning the Manifesto on Mastery, I had something of a reputation to live up to. He minioned for me, as did my wife Kat, Andrew Morris and Lisa Padol. It was, as always, a terribly beautiful session, but not quite as intense as the one at Dreamation. Perhaps Andrew would be so kind as to start a compare-and-contrast thread in Actual Play.

Sunday morning brought the final WGP session of the con, with Thor, Aaron, Steve (from Pretender) and his friend Rich. Man, I wish I could have played that game for months! Everyone immediately "got" the dramatic irony underlying the game and ate it up. A truly, truly great session.

I was scheduled to run Universalis in the last slot, but was so drained I ended up escorting Andrew Morris to a friend's game so that I could go home and crash.

What a great weekend!

I do agree that Double Exposure cons are just plain different than other gaming cons. The con provides a *lot* of stuff for browsers to see and do (as anyone who walked past the video arcade/anime room area can attest). Thus, our 15-minute demoes are but one of many offerings for folks looking for something to occupy a few minutes.

As for sales, I just don't know. Dreamation was a smaller con, but we did better business. Maybe the more laid-back pace helped with that?

I'll likely do Double Exposure's even smaller con: Southern Exposure in Cherry Hill in Sept. But unless I get some help, I don't think it'll be worth my time to try to sell product. More of a promotional/awareness push, I think.
Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!


two things. First, Rob, name names and talk brass tacks. Vague feedback doesn't help any of us. But specifics might help us either address the issues of our own texts and might help us help you. I read your actual play, and you seem to touch on some of the issues there. But perhaps a second AP to talk about these specific issues in play would help?

Second, I love this thread. This is very much what I had hoped for when I got Ron and Clinton to open up the Conventions forum.


Andy Kitkowski

What is all this mention of "Double Exposure"- Is that the name of the con-throwing group that manages Dexcon?

The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.


Rob Donoghue

Oh, random addition - Luke, have you considered doing Burning Wheel Chargen as a fast demo?  Even if you only do it in broad strokes, that could bereasonably quick, and it definately showcases a distinctive strength of the system

-Rob D.
Rob Donoghue
<B>Fate</B> -


I came to the library to write about Dexcon.  

Here we go:

In Nomine:

I hadn't played In Nomine, Steve Jackson's game of devils and angels since it opened at Gen Con ten years ago.  That wasn't a good experience; this wasn't either.

The GM did not introduce himself, never told us his name despite both Rob and I shaking his hand and telling him ours.  This wasn't Sunday morning but Thursday afternoon.

Characters weren't pre-made and there was only one book.  Chargen consisted of choosing skills and powers for our angels and devils, as we were to have a mixed group.  This process took more than an hour.  We had a table full of guys, all older.

I'm not sure where to start with this we go:

* We were to take a letter from an angel to somewhere mysterious.  In the game's write-up it hinted that we were delivering something to a devil.  We were magicked...gaessed, whatver to not check to see what was in the envelope.  The GM and a player disagreed over the pronunciation of gaes...or is it geas...fuckit.

Much of my fun in this game was watching them pronounce it their preferred way louder and louder as the session went on.  No, all of my fun was from this.

* We had one conflict that had to do with policemen possessed by angels trying to stop us.  There was a half-hearted fight and then we ran away.

* One of the players was playing a demon who served a demon lord of gluttony.  This demon lord apparently loves hot sauce.  Every sentence this gamer said had the word hot sauce in it.  Examples include:

"Is there hot sauce there?"
"I love hot sauce."
"Would you like some hot sauce?"
And of course:
"I hit the angel/cop with my bottle of hot sauce."

This went on for over an hour until Rob and I just ignored every word this kid said.

*We had to make driving rolls.  No reason.  Make driving rolls.  If you didn't have thd riving skill, you can NOT drive.  If you are ever being chased by a Demon or Angel, get on the freeway and RIDE.

* We delivered the letter with no further conflict.  A demon took the letter.  Rob's angel was unhappy with this.  The Demon, a named NPC from the books named Belial froze Rob's P.C. without a roll.  The GM informed Rob, through Belial, that he could make him into a pile of ash with a snap of his fingers.

*Cherry on the cake #1: Belial opens the letter, goes to a chess board and moves a piece.  Yes.  Yes, we delivered a chess move.  The other players thought this was the height of brilliance.  They howled in delight.  God bless them, every one.

The game ended early because the god of gaming is a merciful deity.

*Cherry on the cake#2: Dexcon has first, second and third place on their sheets that the GM is to write up.  The GM is to say who was the best role-player.

Who won?  The GM said, "I don't even have to think about this one."

Two words:

Hot sauce.


This is a shit-hot game that is going to rock people's socks.  I thought it was tons of fun and when I read the pitch, I wasn't thrilled but when I HEARD the pitch, the game sucked me in.

I loved the way we mapped out our PC's relationships within the tribe and the spirit world.  Fantastic.

I adored the tarot-like cards and what they added to the game.  Loved the way the number of dice upped the stakes in the conflict.  Maybe a way to add dice somehow?

Great stuff.  When its finished, I'll buy a copy, no doubt.

N.P.A. Pretender:

I had just played Otherkind the previous week, so I was set to play Pretender.  I dig these, how do you say: Fortune in the Middle games.  I hadn't played any games out of N.P.A., despite owning it.  I now realize I have to look at it much closer.

I've just about written up a game using the Pretender/Otherkind chart for a comic book/super-hero game.

N.P.A. Discernment:

Whenever Michael get's into a position where he can be (My Life with) Master-like around me, it makes me nervous.  I knew I was going to be picked as the effing subject too.

Its a great game, like 21 questions mixed with a social science experiment gone horribly wrong.

I dig.  Rilly, I do.

If Michael Miller ever becomes a super-villain mastermind who tries to take over the world, I would very much like to be a part of the team that tries to stop him.  Because I feel I owe him.

Dictionary of Mu:

I have two additions to running Mu that I'm proud of.  

One, when I hand out characters, I only read the Kickers and NOTHING else.

Two, I tell the players that if they want their PC's to meet, they will have to help, contribute and talk to the players next to them.  I make a point of going to the bathroom in the middle of the game and if I've done my job right, when I come back, the players are talking to one another, figuring out some scenes they'd like to propose.

Ben could've run this game.  At times I felt he was and I mean this in a good way.

Some kickers in the Dictionary have to be tweaked a bit, tighter for Gen Con.

It was a good session.  It was Andrew Morris, Ben...oh shit who was the third guy...I gamed with him three times...shit and a Dexcon veteran who had been there ten years running.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.

I am always shocked at how evil and rough those P.C.'s are.  Rob laughed, "You wrote that world!  How can you be shocked?"  

"Dude, those players are fuct."

This happens after every run.

I have done my job.


This session, run by the game's writer who bought the rights tothe Cyberpunk RPG was called Napkin GIrl; I heard it was a con scenario that get's run quite a bit.  Its about the kids of the original Cyberpunk generation, all of whom sold out.  Now there's a new generation with funky powers and anger up to here.  Okay.

I was out of the game, sitting there, writing notes and doing NOTHING for over an hour.  But that isn't what bugs me about this game.  I'm not even going to get into scene framing discussions because that ain't the point.

Allow me to say this: I liked the GM.  I liked him in that I think he'd be a good guy to share a beer with and shoot the shit alongside.  He was a cool guy.

I think this scenario is a fucking vile mess.

In it we are asked to rescue a girl with no arms and no legs who was unconscious throughout most of the adventure.  I would say 15% of the GM's words were used describing here as attractive, her cotton panties, etc.

When a PC held her, he had to make a Cool attribute check, which almost everyone failed.  No, I think EVERYONE failed it.  When you failed it the GM pantomimed the P.C. being uncomfortable and embarassed.  I think the text of this adventure, not the GM, but the adventure he conceived was begging the players to rape this girl.  No one did but the text was flat-out DARING us to.  

I would be really interested for the GM to chime in and say how other sessions of that game went.


This game rocks and the show we made was awesome.  I want all T.V. to be this good.  I want all games to be this good.

Neat stuff, a great three hours of gaming.

The way players award one another was fantsatic and it was flying around the table with great abandon.  I loved the brainstorming session.  Love everything about it.

We made good T.V.

Pulp Era:

This was a combat demo and the system did nothing for me.  I'm not sure what else to say.

There were pulp-inspired stunts but my stunts didn't fit my character's description.  So, when I waded into combat two-fisted Doc Savage style, I often didn't have the +20 to add to my d20.  I dunno, it just didn't grab me.

Next Post:

Dogs in the Vineyard (I have the key to the kingdom, Buring Wheel (2 games) and I missed Polaris (doh!).


Dogs in the Vineyard:

I have figured out what I need to do to make this scenario rawk.

If I insert NPC's from the first town into their accomplishments or back-story, the adventure SOARS.  Two of the four players had such a link and those two players were invested in the town's fate more heavily.

The game was fantastic with tons of Dog on Dog conflict and a brutal final showdown.


Burning Wheel, a large table:

Luke's got this shit down.  I had played in this game, The Hiest's first incarnation, Nest of Webs and it just didn't work.  Now it works.  I don't have as much love for it as I did its orcish, hate-driven brother but it was a fun night of gaming.

The way Luke makes these games, with pyramid structures of Belief and Instinct trees should be documented and studied closely.

There was a player who turtled and turtled hard.  Every time Luke gallopped around the table, pointing to players, panting, "Whaddya want to do?  Are you goign to just sit there and take this?" the turtler would say, "I'm using the inconspicuous skill." 

Luke, you might want to look at this character.  I think that player was turtling and was not grabbing the opportunities given to him but the character he had seemed particularly weak to me.  I wonder how many other skills the player had other than inconspicuous the player had at is disposal.

Burning Wheel, a small table:

I was thrilled to play in another game of The Gift, this time with only four players.  We had the best scripted combat I have ever been involved in.

Luke's little brother rocked my Dwarven Warden's world with some vicious scripting and the Elven Prince got butt-ass lucky.  It was a swell way to end the con.

I overslept Polaris, a game I was really looking forward to giving a go.  Now I'll just have to wait for the big G.C.


I demo'ed Capes and I've gotta say, Tony's demo -fu is strong, very strong.  He had Rob and I in the thick of an iconic super-hero bank robbery in no time flat.  I was digging it.  I'm looking forward to giving Capes a go here at my end.

Luke's BW demo, The Sword is also some rockin' shit.  Its a classic.  Belief's light dungeon crawls on fire.

Andy Kitkowski

Quote from: Paka on July 19, 2005, 01:13:45 AM

In Nomine:

I hadn't played In Nomine, Steve Jackson's game of devils and angels since it opened at Gen Con ten years ago.  That wasn't a good experience; this wasn't either.


My first time at GenCon, I dealt with games like this.  My second and third times to GenCon, if the game was stinking shitpile, I would at one point politely excuse myself to go to the bathroom, gather my backpack and run away (not literally running, but you get the idea).

I had this idea that I was going to make a fake pager- If you're in a crappy game, you hit a button... wait two minutes, and the pager rings.  You pick it up, say "I'll be back in a minute, go ahead and carry on, here take my character" and leave.

Nowadays, we have cell phones... maybe there's a service where you can get a delayed call if you thumb in a secret number under the table. Look at the incoming call number, excuse yourself in the same way, and get the hell outta dodge.

On one hand, it's incredibly rude.  But on the other hand, so is wasting my fucking time.

Carry on- This is all totally interesting stuff!

The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.

Andrew Morris

Judd, I played In Nomine with Scott Lesher as a GM, and I enjoyed it. I know who GMed your game, and it comes as absolutely no suprise that your game sucked. If you want his name, so you can avoid his games in the future, PM me. Also, the other guy in the Dictionary of Mu game was Rich. I don't know who the fifth player was.

Overall, the game that stood out most for me was Ganakagok. I played it at Dreamation, and it was fun, but the mechanics were shaky. Bill tightened things up and streamlined it, and works so much better. There were a few cancellations, and I was the only player who'd signed up that showed. Fortunately, there were two players whose GM neven arrived, so they sat down to play. I really thought it was going to be bad, because the first question one of them asked was, "Is there gonna be lots of combat?" Ugh. But, my cynical, judgemental self was shown up once again. They looked confused during the rules explanation and into the first few minutes of play. Then, it was like I saw a light go on, and they got it. I mean, they really got it. I dropped out of driving play so I could watch the two of them go. It was great -- one turned himself into the prophet of the sun, and the other opposed him. I had to leave for another game, but they skipped their next game and went on playing into the next time slot.

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