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Category: RPGs

An annual games convention in the offing?


A few days ago, I was at “Over-The-Hill-CON” – a local mini gaming convention arranged (largely by my fiancé, Katrina) as a slightly late birthday celebration. We’d been far too jetlagged to organise it around my actual birthday, having just got back from 3 weeks trailing around New Zealand… so it was about a month later instead.

As an event, it was a huge success.  I also thoroughly enjoyed running one of the RPGs and facilitating another. We had roughly 35 people across two rooms, with one room purely RPGs, the other mostly tabletop gaming with a bit of RPGing.

What follows is a bit of a roundup of the day from my perspective… and some thoughts around the idea of making it a regular event.

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How far is too far for a good game?

KapCon 24 in Wellington was, at roughly 18,800 kilometers, probably the furthest I’ve travelled for a spot of gaming, given than I’d have to leave the planet to go further (or find a convention in Dunedin or Christchurch, which are technically further).  I’m game for going further, but I suspect budget and convention availability would be a hindrance.

This was my first KapCon (but not K’s – she’s a regular) – and I enjoyed it immensely. I’m unlikely to be there every time as it’s a bit far to go… but I fully intend to go again.  If the logistics were easier, I’d even be interested in having a crack at running games (hell, even getting involved in helping with the flagship LARP – that kind of thing is in my wheelhouse, after all). Next time I come along, I’ll certainly have a crack at running something, though.

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London Indie RPG Meetup, December 2012

The Meetup

I thought I’d talk about gaming. Specifically roleplaying. Partly because it’s always been an activity close to my heart, but also because I’ve actually done some of it again for the first time in… far too long. For somebody who still identifies himself as a roleplayer, I’ve done precious little actual playing lately.

My girlfriend has been going to the London Indie RPG Meetup for a while, and it’s had my interest too.  I decided that I’d skip out of another regular SF meet I go to along.  It’s annoying that they clash, but what can I do!  I’m extremely glad I did, as I got a chance to not only play a rather cool new game, but I also got a chance to try out my first go at a GM-less RPG.

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How to use my holiday

I’m stressed, I’m tired, I’m having a bit of a run of insomnia (although I seem to be getting clear of that now). I’m also getting that “outsider” feeling again.  So I think I need a holiday.

Conveniently, I have one coming up.

Two weeks in a secluded mansion house in Devon with a bunch of friends.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m also toying with trying a few experiments whilst I’m there.  Nothing particularly shocking, but things that may be interesting all the same.

First, I have a couple of development projects I want to try, and which I might be able to convince a couple of people to experiment with in a “we’re shut in a house in the rain” kind of a way.  With post it notes and everything.  More on the ideas shortly.

Second, I want to try getting back into RPGs after a couple of years away.  I have the germ of an Unknown Armies game, and I have a hankering to try “Don’t Rest Your Head” as well.  I might have to give one or both of those a shot.  I want to specifically ask for some feedback about the feel of RPGs before then, though, so I’ll get to that shortly as well.

Development Ideas

I have two main ideas for things I want applications for, and I lack the skills to pull them together in an amount of time that fits in my attention span.  So here’s the skinny:

Idea 1 – IC Computer Interface

The number of times I’ve been in a LARP and we’ve had computers as part of the game is pretty high.  The number of times could have actually had a real, working computer present is also pretty high…  but the number of times we’d have been able to just let a player loose on it to see what they turn up is pretty damned low.

What I’d like to do is come up with a styleable, themeable application that could run on a standalone device (laptop booted from a USB stick, Raspberry Pi, etc).  Something that would let GMs pick a rough interface style, seed it with some data for the players to find, or some “enable / disable” type controls.  Something that could be used by a GM to easily mock up the relevant parts of a computer inferface and populate them with data, and then procedurally generate a pile of crud and chaff around it.  Ideally without having to install anything on the PC being used (hence the USB boot / live install / VM approach).

Passwords and codes could be supplied to players based on their characters’ skill levels, and then used to bypass security, or even just run some simulated “cracking tools” that run for a duration based on a skill check and then spit out hidden info or unlock hidden areas.

It makes sense to me to create a basic framework for this kind of thing, and I can see it being a cool development project for a couple of interested parties.

Idea 2 – Game Journal & Planner

I’ve never been as comfortable running a LARP as I was when I could use Grapevine.  More than just a character sheet tracker, this was a godsend for tracking plotlines and interactions.

But it was WOD specific and is also dead as a doornail.  All the various successors have focussed on tracking stats, rather than on the relationships between characters, objects, events, rumours, plots, etc…  Relationships between what I call game objects.

I’d like to see a tool that helps game runners keep journals for each of those game objects, allowing them to keep a timeline for each object, and to easily relate those objects and timelines to each other.

Character sheet tracking holds little appeal to me, but keeping track of all the balls in the air in any given game?  That’s important.

RPG Question

I also mentioned that I wanted to get back into RPGs again, and mentioned UA and Don’t Rest Your Head.  These are both games with a certain element of horror to them, but they also both work best when there’s a frantic pace to the action.  A pace that’s often missing when folks actually try to play them.

It’s all too easy to let the pace drop , particularly when your players don’t really know the setting yet and so don’t know what is or isn’t possible.

I’d like to know if anybody has any thoughts on how to pick up that pace, and how to get all of the players into the right sense of freefall.  How to get them to react instead of thinking things through, and how to get a game in a manic setting to actually feel manic.

Any and all suggestions welcome in the comments!

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