|Go Play NorthWest 2013
||[Jul. 26th, 2013|05:49 pm]
At the end of June I was in Seattle for Go Play NorthWest (GPNW), a casual story-game-focused convention. You can read about the consumptive aspects of the convention on Ardens, this post is about the gaming itself.
Friday Night: Mission Boston (The Regiment)
John Aegard (Johnzo) had released this scenario for The Regiment into the wild a few weeks before GPNW. With it's core in World War II, The Regiment really hits me in the nostalgia for a great many teenaged hours poring over WW2 maps and histories. As soon as I saw John was offering Mission Boston at GPNW, I jumped at the chance to play. The game did not disappoint.
I played the Sniper, Cpl. Andy McCaull, a former east coast barber estranged from his wife who views his volunteering for the armed forces as "playing hero". She may have been onto something. Dropping into Normandy and searching for ourmission objectives, McCaull became separated from his spotter and the rest of the squad and was captured while trying to outflank and eliminate a mortar emplacement.
I then took on the role of PFC Merle Misney, the bazooka loader. Out of the frying pan... Misney and the Bazooka operator, PFC Joe Kapowski, were pinned down in a flooded field and cut off from the rest of the squad while out of ammo and with Kapowski himself freaking out. A short scene of yelling, carrying, more yelling and some "get it together man!" slapping, and we had regrouped, but were still out of rockets and isolated. With a German squad approaching and more between us and the Sarge, there was only option. Frontal assault. Actually a series of frontal assaults. Accompanied by fragmentation and gammon grenades. Amazingly we were successful and destroying two squads and seizing a bridge and the local German HQ, but we never managed to link up with the Sarge and the rest of the squad who were last heard assaulting an emtrenched anti-aircraft battery.
Saturday Morning: Sagas of the Icelanders
My previous game of Sagas of the Icelanders was excellent, so I was keen to see how it played with a different group. The result was mixed. I played Hrefna, a Shield-Maiden; daughter of Woden, The Man; pursued by Steingrimmer, an NPC warrior. The other players were Gudren, the Seiðkona (a kind of wise woman) and Kodran, the Wanderer (a playbook for the strange new arrival in town). In order to kick start the three-hour slot, the GM, Jonathan Reiter, had made themed love letters for us to choose from, mine was The Manslayer: I had killed another villager in a drunken brawl which coloured the villagers' opinion of me and gave me access to a male move.
It took a little while for the game to hit its stride. Jonathan had some ideas for initial scenes which was another good idea, but he some may have been a bit forced. I think he had a bit of a preconceived idea about how the Wanderer would play, which Morgan was not on board with and Kodran was a bit absent at the start. But once we got going there were some great scenes. Hrefna's plot focused on Steingrimmer's repeated approached through her father, a vector which did not impress her. She loved her father a great deal, but rankled at taking the proscribed womanly role Steingrimmer seemed to want. This climaxed when it intersected with Woden's plot, which was to expand his lands by expropriating the inheritance of a neighbouring widow. Steingrimmer and Gruden were helping the widow and when they brought legal action against Woden, Hrefna lured Steingrimmer onto his boat and bashed his brains out.
After that, there we a kind of extended epilogue in which we all went a-viking which didn't really work for me. Afterwards Jonathan mentioned a couple of things that he likes to see in Sagas games, which is fine, but he probably should have mentioned earlier so we could focus on those things rather than forcing them or tacking them on awkwardly.
Saturday Afternoon: The Sprawl
In the afternoon, I ran The Sprawl for Jonathan, Morgan, Sean Nittner and Karen Twelves. Jonathan had expressed interest in playing The Reporter, so I ran the game in a similar way to that at the June Game Day: a mission focused on the Reporter's story (investigating Omni Dynamics). In the links phase, the players performed two jobs against the same corporation (Tiaxia) taking that Corporate Clock to 0000, ensuring that agents of that corporation would show up shooting.
Sean has discussed the game in detail.
Saturday Evening: Atomic Robo
I sat in on the donut (which is close to what Kapcon calls the Duckwalk, potential players stand in a circle, GMs stand in a smaller interior circle and pitch, players race to be noticed by the GM when the facilitator says go), but missed out on Johnstone Metzger's Dungeon World game. So I joined Morgan's Atomic Robo game with Logan Bonner, Anastacia Visneski, and someone else I've forgotten the name of.
Last time I played Atomic Robo it was an old version with quite a few rough edges, and while this game started slowly with a character generation bottleneck, it turned into a rollicking good time as Morgan's FATE games invariably do! I particularly loved Anastasia's sleazy interpretation of Robo's seventies phase, and Logan's character and my scientific super-spy ("James, Frederick James. International Man of Science.") smoking and drinking their way around an investigation in a biodome.
Sunday Morning: Netrunner
The next morning nothing appealed at the donut, so despite forgetting my cards, I went to the Netrunner meet-up and played a few games with Sage LaTorra and Derek Guder (although I didn't realise that Derek was a twitter interlocutor of mine until I asked what his twitter handle was at lunch time). I was using Derek's cards in all four games I played, and it was a good chance to try out the basic decks for factions I hadn't used before.
Sunday Afternoon: Undying
This was the second of Paul Riddle's games I played at GPNW (he is also one of the designers of The Regiment) and the second time I'd played Undying. Since last August, Paul has redesigned the game to be diceless. I was initially skeptical, but he was generous enough to run the game twice at GPNW so I had a chance to try it out, and I'm sold. It essentially makes every move a 7-9 result, which the players can choose and spend blood to choose more options. It's very elegant and actually removes a tone of GM workload.
We were playing in a 19th-century Baltimore setting designed by Jason Morningstar in which vampire society dominates the medical schools, professional associations and assorted subsidiary industries. We had a Devil who ran the police morgue, a Wolf who ran the local body-wagon, a Succubus who ran an opium den and me as the Puppet Master who chaired the city's main medical board. The kicker for the game was the murder of the Leige's lover and instead of becoming an investigation of the murder, it rapidly turned into a PvP cover-up/snitch operation when the Wolf tried to keep the fact that the body had turned up at the Succubus' opium den a secret from me so that I wouldn't tell the Leige. It was awesome. As I said last time. This hack gives you everything Vampire's flavour-text promised. Paul is already gathering art, so some form of final publication will be in the works soon, I'd say.
Sunday Evening: Dungeon World
I didn't manage to play DW with Sage and Adam, but I did manage to give Lily the game I'd promised last year sometime, and play out the latest in the adventures of Ben Demon-Slayer.
In this installment, Ben and his companions journeyed to the top of the world to recover a sacred gem lost to the halfling nations, but Ben had to choose whether to return the sacred treasure to his homeland and return strife to the lands, or leave it in the lush gardens atop the icy spire, forgo the glory and leave the halfling lands at peace. My memory of the specifics of the last game of a energetic weekend are fuzzy, but there were lots of cool moments of fighting giant ice trolls, flying guardian spiders, and exploding donuts of magical energy.
Mmm, Dungeon World.