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.

Stuff I played in:

Round 1 – Quiet Day In The Library (LARP)

  • Gentle yet intense “Cosy Catastrophe” style LARP, set in a suburban library as world-changing events unfold.
  • Things worthy of note: cultural context – In character loud bangs and shaking: all the Kiwi players are under a table before I can blink. Me left standing around like a lemon before I realise what’s happening.

Because I’d been busy with travelling, sleeping, jetlag and whatnot, I hadn’t read my character brief as much as I should have before time in. I probably missed a few bits of character detail as a result, but I think I managed to get the general gist and grabbed hold of the highlights pretty firmly.

The game was quietly intense and personal, with each of the characters having very personal (and largely undisclosed) reasons why we were still around when hardly anybody else seemed to be. Things generally fitted together pretty well, and given the subject matter and situation, I think the game did a good job of not becoming morbid and depressing.

I’ve not had a huge amount of experience with pregen-based LARPs (most of the LARP I do here in the UK has player generated characters, or at the very least characters generated by the facilitators based on discussion with the players), but this particular pregen was a pretty good fit for the kinds of characters I tend to create for myself… so it all worked out.

Plot spoilers:
[spoiler]Biblical end-of-days, earthquakes, rains and rivers of blood, dead rising… all that jazz.  We were all still on earth due to having unforgiven sins, all of the kinds of things that are fairly normal these days.  In my case, I had a child out of wedlock – a child I loved and was deeply worried about throughout events, until it became clear that he’d been taken away as an “innocent”.[/spoiler]

In all, an enjoyable, memorable game.

Round 2 – Mission Drift (TT)

This was a sci-fi “events on a spaceship” style mystery game, with the characters all starting off with partial amnesia – we knew who we were, and what our jobs were, but events leading up to game-time were just missing.

PCs starting off amnesiac worked for the plot, but I felt it took a bit too long for enough memories to surface for us to trust even one other PC each.

If I had one piece of feedback for the GM, it’d be to try to get us each trusting at least one other person a bit sooner. As it is, it didn’t hurt the game overly much, and it didn’t feel too slow at the time, but it made the back half of the game feel a bit too rushed in the timeslot… like it needed an extra half an hour or so. But, as it stood, I *loved* the plot. Kudos to the GM for a good story.

Plot spoilers:

[spoiler]We were a heist team trying to hijack basic supply generation tools for our oppressed colony… but the mechanics of our heist meant we lost our memories in the process.[/spoiler]

Round 3 – Food, social time, jetlag avoidance by judicious application of daylight

We took a break here, as is apparently traditional for some of Katrina’s crowd. This meant we had time to get fed and organised for the LARP.  It also meant that we saw a bit of daylight, helping us adjust to the complete timezone inversion.

Round 4 – Crisis Point (Flagship LARP)

I’d been really looking forward to this LARP – I used co-run a lot of ongoing smaller LARPs in the UK (starting from 8-10 players, topping out around 90 or so), and have been wanting to see how it’s done in NZ. This one didn’t disappoint. There were some bumps and rough edges around character briefs with omissions and contradictions, but a larger scale LARP without those kinds of bumps probably isn’t trying hard enough!

This was my first time going in to a LARP as a “nice guy” character with a brief including having recently arranged for a hit to be put out on somebody, with that hit literally about to take place right in front of us. As a result, I think my catchphrases for the night were “I’ve f%!ked up” and “I don’t think I can come back from this”, and my signature pose was holding my head in my hands.

It was thoroughly enjoyable to watch the scale of the game gradually unfold, and for the petty (IC) details like gross invasions of personal privacy and assasinations to become increasingly irrelevant.

Whilst I think our group of characters could have used an extra round of proof-reading to check for consistency and ensure motivations made sense… there was nothing there that we couldn’t make work. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Plot Spoilers:

[spoiler]We didn’t know this going in, but this was a “Crisis on Infinite Earths” kind of deal – the world we started in wasn’t the only one, and something was coming along the chain of worlds and bringing them to an end, rapidly making our local concerns less important compared to the growing global existential threat.[/spoiler]

Round 5 – Watch the Skies (LARP)

Visitors to and residents of a 1950s UFO cult compound, all with hidden agendas.

I hadn’t planned to play this, but there was space available and I had no other specific plans. I’m glad I played as I enjoyed it quite a bit, although it took me a while to get into the swing of things.

In a real change for me, I actually managed to play a bit of a heel with some success, mostly because it turned out I was actually fairly low on heel-scale compared to pretty much everyone else, so my “nice-guy” instincts didn’t spoil things too badly, and pretty much everyone I was screwing over had it coming in some way. I think I came out of the game with almost all of my goals met, which was pretty rare for me :)

The award for “most nonsense spouted” goes to the chap playing the cult leader, who managed to improvise a sustained torrent of spectacularly realistic 1950s UFO cult nonsense continuously for a full three hours! Kudos!

Plot Spoilers:

[spoiler]I was a complete con-artist trying to siphon some of the doctor’s wealthy followers away to further my own UFO cult and milk it for all I could get.[/spoiler]

Round 6 – Screaming at the Edge of Tomorrow (TT – Shadowrun)

I played this on a whim because I fancied something old-school for a change. I enjoyed playing a slightly thuggish type and getting to dish out a bit of violence whilst still having a _bit_ of brain.

Round 7 – LARP the cleanup LARP

For this event, I played second deputy assistant lift-and-carry monkey. My character had the skills of “take instruction”, “lift and carry” and “van tesselation” (which, conveniently, are skills I have in real life, so could play reasonably well).  I also had the flaws “Enmity: Automatic Doors”, “Enmity: Lifts” and “Detatched from time” (aka: jetlag), all of which came out in play.

Post Event Drinks @ Dockside

There was passable cider and very good company.  Also, it turns out I actually like mussels if they’re exceptionally good.  I’ve had “good mussels” before and thought they were pretty rank, but as with all seafood it just seems to be nicer in New Zealand.

Prawns are still beast of murderous hate, though. I’m addicted to breathing, so nobody will be convincing me to try them again anytime soon.

Summing up

Excellent convention, good people, fun all around. A++, 5 out of five stars, would convene again. Next time I’ll run something, too.