Players: Jenni, Liam, Norman, Frank, Nick P & Moi
The fun in the game came from creating super heroes and setting them in context. It had only a lightweight story and villain, but the characters and players were so energetic and fun that it was really only afterwards that I even realized just how superficial the adventure was.
Second Round – Apocalypse World
GM: Mike Sands
Players: Idiot, Donna, Dale, “Michael” & myself
After a really brief chat, Mike pitched us into the pre-written demo scenario. We each played one member of the leadership elite of a small community hanging onto survival in the grim future. I nominated Dale as the “Hardholder” – the leader. Michael snapped up the psycher. Donna played the village doctor-cum-witchdoctor while Idiot played a chief enforcer. I was the beautiful artiste.
The game seemed built around a series of decision trees. Character creation works in steps where you make discrete decisions about the character, and about the character’s relationship to the others. This is not necessarily a collaborative process – you can simply tell people things about your characters’ relationship as set out on your sheet. I had the opportunity to pick someone I was friends with, someone who was my lover and someone who was in love with me. I thought briefly about asking people what they were comfortable with before deciding to just proceed as directed – Dale’s hardholder was my friend, Donna’s angel was my lover, and Michael’s brainer was in love with me. Mike also provided some information about our environment and the NPCs based on a similar check-box/decision tree.
The first few scenes of the game were disjointed – the PCs all separate, all of us figuring out what to do. Dale, fortunately, took immediate decisive action to end the conflict with a neighbouring town, ordering the troops to mount up. Some exposition and exploration and a few botched dice rolls later, we knew that we were militarily outclassed and that “Blind Blue”, the opposition’s brainer, was in love with my skinner.
Things took a turn for the creepy when we discovered that everyone in the opposition camp was a puppet for “Blind Blue”. I was sent in under cover with a bomb to kill him – the cover being that I was equally in love with him, or at least, prepared to explore the possibilities. Mike soft-pedalled this a bit, about which I was ambivalent… the set-up could have pushed even my comfort limits, but it also seemed to prompt some interplay beyond the superficial. Donna’s response floored me – injecting Spice with a time-delay poison, so that if he didn’t come back to her, he’d die. It was eventually revealed to be a placebo, but the whole exchange was very effective.
Eventually, the good guys won, with my bomb going off and me escaping. I suspect the influence of the benevolent hand of the GM to an extent, gently allowing things to move to a satisfying climax.
A few interesting features to comment on. The major thing I have been thinking about is the question of trust. As Dale said, in the character creation phase you could build relationships with the others. Michael got shut out in the cold a bit by his decision to award us all negative relationship dice. This may have been a specification of the character rather than Michael, but lacking better information, we took it at face value. What interested me was that these dice potentially awarded you power over the other PCs – in some senses once you had allocated dice to someone, they had to trust that you’d use those dice wisely. I wondered how I would have played differently with or Nick Cole at the table – two players I know pretty well, but who I know will screw other PCs if the occasion calls for it. Awarding or being awarded trust dice to them is a whole different thing to awarding trust dice to Donna or Dale, who I think would probably not look at a betrayal in the same way.
I guess, the difference is, I’d award Dale trust dice knowing his character would have my character’s back unless there was something compelling to break that. I’d award Hix trust dice knowing he’d screw me – but only at a good moment for the story. Michael therefore, by shutting himself out of the trust equation, and being an unknown, never really got into the events the others were building.
This was a very interesting game. I’d like to return to it and try it with a different combination of characters.
Third Round – Zombie Cinema
Players: Paul, Donna, Nasia, Alasdair
At a high-school dance in Masterton. Two characters students, two adult supervisors… I thought this setup would be a classic for rocketing along, but it was a bit flat. I suspect we were all just a bit tired.
At KapCon I’m always gaming with new people, but at CONfusion, I’m almost always gaming with people I know. That’s a really important difference. I go to KapCon for the gaming, but I’m almost certain I come to CONfusion for the people. The gaming was good too this year. 🙂