||[Sep. 28th, 2011|01:21 am]
Earlier, I described the Nerdly Beach Party and the foodie peripherals. The ostensible reason for the weekend was the gaming. I say "ostensible" because the weekend is at least as much about hanging out with friends, as is most gaming anyway (on that note, cheers to all my gaming friends!).
We arrived at around 7, in time for a little socialising before the first session. For me, that session was playing Blowback, which is basically Burn Notice: the RPG. I haven't seen the show, but the genre is familiar (spies burned by their agency and left out in the cold). The twist in Blowback is that everyone plays both a Professional and a Civilian with a relationship to another player's Professional, so the strains on those relationships are front and centre in the game.
The GM was Garret Narjes who had driven from fuckin' Minnesota for the con, and the other players were emurphy42 and jhkim. Character generation was briefly interrupted by a passing thunderstorm, but after drying my Professional's character sheet, I was able to put my dots in the right places. Blowback reminded me of Wilderness of Mirrors in that there is a planning phase (Analysis) during which the players accumulate dice to use towards the mission (and give dice to the GM) and an action phase (Operation) in which they assign and spend those dice (and are opposed by the dice pool given to the GM). These phases are followed by a Blowback phase in which the consequences of the mission come back to haunt both the Civilians and the Professionals. Our mission saw an antisocial techie with an anger issue (Pavement Artist - John), a tough-as-nails female combat zone specialist (Commando Artist - me) and a faceman (Provocateur/Diversion Lifer - Ed) set up a fake gang war to drive off a drug operation near Tulane University in New Orleans. My dice rolling sucked, but John made up for it and we got through with a few interesting complications.
A good game and a system which seemed to have a lot of intriguing things going on behind the GM screen. I will pick this up at some point.
Marksmanship and Coitus
After a late night and waking with the sun, I zombied my way through several coffees and a bunch of bacon and corralled Ryan Macklin into running Marksmanship and Coitus (aka Gun n Fuck on Saturday morning. This was a playstorm (brainstorm + playtest) of Ryan's game about Jason Statham-esque Badasses (PCs) taking down Motherfuckers (major NPCs) in a Crank (2006)-style scenario. The three basic stats are Markmanship (fighting), Coitus (social, including alpha-dog dominance), and Screen Presence (whether the story is about your Badass) and there are a host of descriptive categories to add colour and dice. The players were Garret as the expensive-shoe wearing social expert, me as the British faux-cowboy hero (high screen presence), Morgan as the uber-cool long-coat-wearing gunman, and Beau Olson (the other Minnesotan) as the motorcycle-riding hardman. The rules were in a fluid state, but Ryan knows his stuff, so it went very well. We managed to craft a satisfying and awesome story and hopefully give Ryan some useful information along the way.
Dungeon World: The Shallow Sea
In the afternoon, I ran Dungeon World for Ryan, Garret and Will Huggins playing a Halfling Fighter, Elven Ranger and Elven Wizard respectively. I used Marshall Millar's third Dungeon Starter, The Shallow Sea as the basis for a hunt for the heart if the fearsome Dragon Turtle, a quest which ended in an epic combat between the party and the Dragon Turtle and a powerful demonic elemental. It went pretty well overall but there were a few lessons to be learnt, in particular about the best way to use Miller's Dungeon Starters (i.e. as starters, duh).
- I was intending to playtest the fan-made Barbarian class, but I forgot to print it out, so that didn't happen.
- The more I use bonds for XP, the more dissatisfied I become with the current bonds as written. This is definitely an area of the game that is still in flux, so (along with many others) I'm interested to see where the designers go with this.
- In terms of adventure prep, I need to organise the monster sheets better and actually use Fronts properly. That's something to fix before Big Bad Con.
3:16: The Reubens Campaign
Saturday evening turns out not to be the best time to run a game like 3:16; it requires a little too much light to see all the bits and pieces. Something to bear in mind for next time. This game was a chance to reacquaint myself with the game before Big Bad Con and it was a success in that regard. We (Morgan, Colin, Andrew, Garret and I) were all a bit tired, so we only played two "planets" (actually two missions on one planet), but they worked pretty well.
Dungeon World: Halls of the Iron Abominations
On Sunday morning, Andrew stepping up and joined the ranks of the Dungeon World GMs with a couple of hours of play before we all packed up. He had five players: Sean and Ryan using characters from previous games over the weekend (an evil cleric and the Halfling Fighter from my Shallow Sea game, respectively), and new characters for Morgan (Human Wizard), Colin (Human Thief) and myself (Human CHA-based Fighter with hirelings). A couple of GMing lessons for this one too. First, I think five players is too many (to be fair, I think that about most games - not enough spotlight time). Second, I don't think the antagonistic bonds work very well. Or rather, they work fine, but are more negative than positive and detract from the feel of Dungeon World in its basic dungeon delving mode. Intra-party strife in D&D is either a rebellious move to add roleplaying to a system that doesn't support it or a back door way of transferring OOC problems to the table. In D&D it's relatively quickly dealt with and doesn't usually detract too much from the main point of the game, but because of Dungeon World's roots in Apocalypse World, it is supported and easily disrupts the forward momentum of the adventure. That forward momentum is one of Dungeon World's best aspects, to my mind. So more dissatisfaction with the bonds as written, there.
And with that, the gaming portion of Nerdly Beach Party VIII was over. Much fun was had, and I'm keen to return next time for the Spring 2012 edition (travel plans allowing)!