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Games I played at Gen Con

This is just a short review. I'll post something later about the 21 games I bought.

GURPS IoU
MiB run and dire.

Call of Cthulhu Masters' Tournament
I only got through to the semis so I'm obviously not a master but these two games were excellent. The first was written by Tony who I met at Origins last year. It was the sordid tale of a 1950's gang of teenagers who spend a night in a haunted house. I was the only one who got out. The three GMs (Edie, Steve and Tony) were excellent and Steve in particular for his portayal of a diner rollerskate waitress. The other players were pretty darned good too and we were soon jumping around all over and strutting our stuff. One of them, James Owens, is going to be in London in October. I sense a SteveCon is necessary.

The second game was about teenagers again. This time we were on one of those bootcamp courses and once again Edie did the scenario proud. We spent quite some time being obnoxious and then bad things happened. I tried to kill another PC with a flare pistol and the world ended. I was in the process of breaking a gem on an altar to stop a summoning when another PC shot me in the back. Down to 2 hps I collapsed on the altar and failed my luck roll to break the gem. So it wasn't really my fault.

Breaking the Ice
This is Emily Care Boss' game of the first three dates of a relationship. It's a two-player game so Emily split the eight of us into pairs and I played with Erin. It's got a nice way of creating characters based around word association but once the dating starts things can get pretty messy (in terms of the situation, the system's easy). Our two lovebirds Jenny and Jess only really seemed to get it on when things went badly and although the three dates ended with much love gained, we decided that it would burn itself out pretty soon.

This is a rather sweet game whose mechanic does a good job of generating tension in the scenes so that both players become involved in what is going on. I imagine that it's quite easy to play more with even more stressful situations but playing the dating game was a nice respite from poking shoggoths in the eye, any eye.

Cold City
I hadn't had a go at playing this but with rpgactionfigure volunteering how could I miss it. As the untrustworthy French character (natch) I almost ruined everything but nikotesla's mad scheming got us an in with the Soviet scientists and Paula's prim Englishwoman's stiff upper lip saw us through in the end. It was an overflowing of scheming and inventiveness, I think I had 0 trust in 3 of 5 PCs by the end.

Mortal Coil
Mortal Coil is a game where the players and GM define the magic as the game progresses. Characters are driven by passions that change during the session. It's diceless using poker chips for resource management. And it rocks on toast. Brennan Taylor, the author was running this session and I was lucky enough to get in on it.

1924 in Mississippi, Robert Johnson meets the Devil at the crossroads and comes away with the music and its magic. The Devil is not best pleased and since then the Man has been trying to get it back.

1974 in New Amsterdam.
Coming to a venue near you! Live and Dangerous! It's ... Flaming Taft!

It's the hottest summer on record, there's a garbage strike and someone called Son of Sam is running amok with a knife. In the middle of this mayhem, Flaming Taft ("They're doomed - They're the best" says their manager) have stepped up to the plate with some new punk sounds ("What sort of music do you play?", asks someone of the bassist TFB aka The Fucking Bassplayer, "I'm aiming for a Cthonic Hypershape", he replies in earnest whilst concentrating on fixing speakers to a helicopter).

I played Crash, son of an EMI exec (and servant of the Man), whose twin passions of "I love my dad" and "I hate myself" ensure that he is doomed to die a druggy death. The others are Lizzie Something, our desperate manager played by judd_sonofbert, TFB played by nikotesla, John Walker our normal drummer who holds the band together, played by ptevis and Skank, the self-important guitarist plated by Rémi.

There was intense conflict, some with the Man in the shape of my dad, an A&R man and the Man himself but mostly between band members and we tried to self-destruct. In the end, Lizzie sold out to the Man so that the band could get the stage she thought deserved. And I don't think there was 5 minutes in the whole 4 four hours when we didn't stop laughing.

I enjoyed this so much that I inflicted it on davidt3001 and anubisgrrl the very next weekend.

Demos
A Thousand and One Nights
This is Meguey Baker's storytelling game, literally. Everyone plays a character at the Sultan's court. You can't easily interact with each other without offending the Sultan so you tell stories to each other that show how you really feel about the other PCs. We only played one round but even that was a joy. It was a tale of how a genie gave a king a choice of giving water to his subjects or to the people and animals of the oasis that surrounded the well in which the genie lived. In the end the king ended up being turned into a goat. You can see the influence of Dogs in the Vineyard on the creation and resolution of conflicts in the game but the system is much lighter and better supports the game in my opinion. Definitely one to try out for real.

Shock
nikotesla, that man again, ran a demo of Shock for Paula and I. This was a little rushed so I've not got a clear idea of the dice mechanic but I did enjoy the premise and think it has promise. Shock is the game of social science fiction in which future science clashes with today's social problems. The players create pro- and antagonists who interact in the background and there's a mechanic for building the world as you go along. I'd like to give this one a better go too.

Perfect
This is Joe MacDonald's game set in a world akin to Victorian England that is under oppressive rule. The PCs are criminals within this world who strike out against the system. The demo was interesting but not long enough for Paula and I to get a good feel of how the game works in the long run. But I bought it anyway so I'll have a chance to see whether it can deliver more than it originally promised. It is a good looking game however.

Mortal Coil
I almost forgot. The day after playing this, Brennan ran a demo for Paula and me. It was short but very to the point and an excellent introduction into the game that really grabbed Paula's interest.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
heliograph
Aug. 29th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
I passed along your comments to Steve. He did some great in-booth demos this year for Fudge, and I hope to use him for games or demos next year.

Can you expand on GURPS IOU? The most instructive convention games I've been to have been the bad ones.
gbsteve
Aug. 30th, 2006 08:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for that. Steve Camper(?) and his crew really made the games special.

As for GURPS IoU, it was a whole catalogue of problems. As players we tried to get it to run, we managed to get some banter going and establish some kind of rapport but had very little to work with. The problems were largely down to the GM:
- We were randomly handed pregen characters, which is normal for Con games but had hardly any time to read them. We certainly didn't know who the other PCs were or what our relationship to them was.

- We were dumped into the middle of a situation at IoU. Now, if you weren't, like me, familiar with GURPS IoU this didn't necessarily make a lot of sense.

- The GM didn't describe the situation with any kind of passion or interest.

- The game primarily consisted of hitting things. When I tried something different, such as talking to people, I got quizzical looks from the GM who seem to regard this as a bit off the wall, although the other players voted me a prize at the end.

- The scenario was designed for 8 players and was supposed to interact with the game next door, also for 8 players. The other PCs were supposed to have been accidentally dragged through some portal our professor had opened. We got 6 players for both games so the GMs only ran one of the games. He ran the other bunch of PCs as NPCs but really was hard pushed to breathe life into one NPC let alone 8. He kept complaining that had there been 12 other players this problem would not have arisen because we'd have had someone else to talk to.

- The GM spent much of the time complaining about the Con organisation and what he would do to Peter Adkison if he had 10 minutes with him.

- After the fight at the start, which was us shooting at the other PC group for no apparent reason, the GM didn't quite know what to do with us. The other PC group refused to say anything to us so we used magic and trickery to find out what they wanted. I came up with a plan for how to get the stuff to send them back. As soon as I mentioned the plan, the GM called a halt to proceedings saying that that was for part 2 of the scenario. So after 3 hours, just as things had finally started to get interesting, the game was stopped.

I'm a MiB myself. I've played lots of con games of GURPS in the UK and I'd never had a bad one until now.

It could be, of course, that my expectations were wrong. I have played in Con games where some of the players said it was one of the best games they'd ever played and I was hard pushed not to take their comments as sarcastic. But some people really do enjoy just lining 'em up and knocking 'em down.
uthoroc
Aug. 30th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
Nice to hear you enjoyed Mortal Coil that much. I picked it up for my brother-in-law adn read through it - it looks splendid. I hope to get to play a game some time in the future.
gbsteve
Aug. 30th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
It's well worth it. Perhaps I run some at Dragonmeet if you can make it.

And talking of maps, where did you get the data for your 14th C French map? I'm rather interested in doing something similar for the 10th C for my Dark Ages Cthulhu games.
uthoroc
Aug. 31st, 2006 06:54 am (UTC)
That would be great, I certainly plan to be at Dragonmeet.

For the France map Ian Plumb from Griffin Grove Gaming (http://www.griffingrove.com.au) provided me with the data. IIRC it was from a historical atlas, but for details you would have to ask him. It was definitely not a web resource though, it was scanned from a printed atlas, and I traced it in CC2.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )