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Confusion 2012 [Aug. 8th, 2012|09:20 am]
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The last NZ con of my trip, Confusion, was held on Saturday in Brooklyn, Wellington, at the same great little venue as Day of Games in May. Confusion featured three rounds of gaming; the first two sessions were three hours long and the last was meant to be four, but most of the games ended early.

Session One: The Slayer Chronicles II: The Problem with Plague (Monster of the Week - Sophie Melchior)
Hong Kong, 1994. The impending handover has the colony on edge, made worse by an outbreak of plague at Yuanpu Street bird park. Signs point to supernatural influence! The group comprised a Slayer, a Monstrous, an Exile (a new playbook for someone trapped out of their own time that Mike was testing) and a Spooky. I played a Mundane, Joseph Song, a bumbling ex-butcher's apprentice with a crush on the Slayer. The game started with a lot of bumbling - the exile was badly wounded in a fight with "a local militia" (the HKPF), the Spooky and I each failed to sneak into the quarantine area - but after extricating ourselves from our own failures and doing some research at the local library (microfiches ho!) we managed to identify the source of the problem and head off to fight the cult behind it.

During all this, a voice in the Spooky's head had managed to convince him that the voice was the Slayer (his best friend) and that her body had been possessed by an evil spirit, trapped her out of her body. So when the Exile, the Slayer and I burst in to the palatial mansion in which the cult was summoning some sort of chaos being in a whirling vortex, the Spooky was not far behind, intending to inflict some bad mojo on the creature possessing the Slayer. I was momentarily influenced by the chaos being and wandered around chaotically for a short time, in the process letting the Spooky into the building and calling the Monstrous and babbling incoherently at him about food. The Monstrous teleported into the mansion from elsewhere but was ensnared by the chaos being and trapped in its body. The final moment saw the badly-injured Exile dive in front of the Spooky as he channeled all of his life energy against the Slayer while the Slayer herself struck the being, collapsing the chaos vortex which disappeared, taking the Monstrous and the Slayer with it.

Session Two: The Madness of Their Judgment (Agon) - Ivan Towlson
I'd run it before, but I had yet to play Agon until now, so I was quite excited for this. It lived up to my expectations and the race for glory was tight right up to the end. This was a tale as old as time, or at least, as old as Euripides: an offended god ensorcells the women of the city and demands his offender be punished. Greek gods being notoriously obtuse, the first two-thirds of the session were spent finding this out, and then a cunning plan was hatched to kidnap the offender and deliver him to justice. This was my chance to seal victory, but I only managed a high roll of 4 on 2d6, 1d4 and 1d10. And so the tales will tell of the adventure of man-killing Phryne and her companions. If I'm lucky, perhaps mighty-thewed beast-master Oeneus will get a line or two.

Session Three: The Cazares-Bell Obsolescence (The Sprawl) - Me
I ran this scenario at Buckets of Dice a couple of months ago: a cyber-soldier has escaped from a nearby laboratory and the corporation responsible needs her tracked down before she begins a PR-killing rampage. Playbook selection was dictated by playtest demands and what I had printed out, so we had a Hacker, an Infiltrator, a Driver (all well tested), a Fixer and a Pusher (neither of which had been played in their current incarnations). It was a team tooled for investigation and interaction, and there was some of that, as well as some sneaking and a brief fight.

The main complication was a corporate countdown clock being pushed to 0000 in the Links phase (in which you establish relationships between players and corporations) so as well as the main mission, there was a major Russian crime syndicate after them for their past operations. As it happened, we didn't really have enough time to develop that complication, but it would have set things up well for the next session.

That was part of the reason the session didn't work quite as well as I would have liked. I opted for the final session in order to take advantage of the longer time slot (on the schedule as four hours), but most of the other games ended early, even for Wellington games. I should have tried to find a more secluded space; after three hours the room was noisy with the post-con buzz of gamers and a couple of the players were getting distracted. They had pretty much wrapped up the main mission by this point, so rather than fight it, I hit the Fixer's drug supply network with a taste of Russian retribution and the characters went to ground.

Player feedback was positive, but my expectations are pretty high for The Sprawl these days. There may have been a general lack of energy around the table since it was the last session. I did allow a fifth player, and that went way better than the six player game I tried at OrcCon, but the characters tended to act alone in this game and there was little central planning, and combined with the fifth player meant that I wasn't happy with the amount of spotlight time I was able to give to each character. I would be interested to try a five player game with a strong player playing a coordination- and planning-focused playbook (Steve's Soldier at Day of Games springs to mind). A valuable playtest though; I'll have another pass over the playbooks and see if I can include some more teamwork moves.

Hopefully I'll have time to do that before GenCon next week.

From: caleb_books
2012-08-07 10:27 pm (UTC)
I certainly found it listening in to the character creation and comparing it to other games in the 'apoc world' family. It helped add to the flavour and made me want to play the game.

I certainly noticed that the characters seemed to be individuals going off their own ways a lot as well. Futuristic communications allow for that though. And they seemed like a paranoid bunch :)

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[User Picture]From: anarchangel23
2012-08-07 10:53 pm (UTC)
This group operated far more as individuals that the other times I've run the game; usually the first thing the characters do is get together to discuss the job. While they were paranoid in some ways, in others they weren't; they didn't do very much legwork to establish the nature and implications of the job.
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[User Picture]From: anarchangel23
2012-08-07 10:56 pm (UTC)
I find that the Apocalypse World systems handles players spliting up very well, which is one of the reasons I decided to write the hack. That's such a feature of Near Future games, and often such a problem in the systems that try to represent it.
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[User Picture]From: hafwit
2012-08-08 01:22 pm (UTC)
Will The Sprawl be available for purchase?
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[User Picture]From: anarchangel23
2012-08-08 09:19 pm (UTC)
That's my eventual goal. I'm hoping to have a externally playtestable version ready later this year. My dissertation has rightful been taking priority over the summer/winter break, but I should be able to get back into an evening writing rhythm once I return to LA.
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[User Picture]From: hafwit
2012-08-09 06:31 am (UTC)
Cool. :-)
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