Dreamation 2007 – Burnin’ Down The House

Wow. Now that was a great convention! Dozens of events went off with barely a hitch to be found (at least that I heard about). Pick-up games and animated conversations scattered like snowflakes across several floors of the hotel. Double Exposure put on a great con, and the Indie Games Explosion was a great success!


The con started Thursday, which made it an extremely stressful day for me. Rush, rush, rush. Tension, tension, tension. We made it to hotel without getting lost, and with barely 20 minutes to spare before Kat’s With Great Power… game. I was much too high-strung to enjoy a game that night, focused on settling in to the room and just reveling in making it to the con … even though we had left our house, getting to the con felt a lot like coming home.

Friday kicked off with a bang, biff, pow! I ran the new WGP session that Kat and I had just finished writing this week, “Mutant Academy.” Playing in that game were Kat, Bill, Mike-whose-last-name-I-don’t-recall, Eric from Perfect Score, and Frank-whose-last-name-I-don-t-recall (no relation). It was a wild game where the story focused more on one of the non-powered “honorary mascots” of the team than on the team leader, and the prep school right next door to the Mutant Academy was a cover for a Human Supremecist organization. They ended up burning down the prep school.

Next was much much-dreaded, much-anticipated By The Stars (powered by With Great Power…) playtest. Speaking of much-anticipated, I was surprised by how many times I heard “Yeah, Mike, I read all about it on your blog.” I had the strong impression that I was casting my words out onto the ether and Kat, sometimes Judd, and occasionally one of the Burning Crew, would look at it. I’m going to work harder to post more friendly comments to others’ blogs just as a feedback mechanism to let people know they’re being heard.

But the By The Stars game had an amazing collection of players: Ralph Mazza as the betrothed young Duke, Fred Hicks as the believed-to-be-dead King disguised as a bounty hunter, Matthew Gandy as the exiled Prince coming to reclaim his throne, and Steve “The Awesome Gamer” McFadden as the Crown Princess fitted with a loyalty chip. WGP… would need some strong tweaking to fit well with the space opera genre. But it was an incredibly productive session that I will drill into to mine to raw materials from which to make By The Stars. The Prince betrayed the resistance and lead the evil Singularity to the headquarters to burn it down.

I was looking forward to playing something in the 8pm slot on Friday. Specifically, I was hoping for a rendition of Shawn De Armet’s One Night, since I’ve gotten a renewed taste for single-session play. However, Shawn didn’t show up on time (c’mon, Shawn, post a comment explaining it. That’s right, I’m looking at you. You with with miserable bubblegum still stuck in your ponytail). Thus, I jumped ship for Andrew Morris’ Unistat “Knights of the Living Dead” game with Ralph, Emily Care Boss, the same highly comedic Frank that had played in WGP earlier, and Kristina (Mr. Morris’ s.o.). We turned the bleak idea of “knights that fight back the zombie hordes with their flaming swords” into a sort of comedy of provincial back-stabbing that included an undead wedding and a church full of zombies being burned to the ground.

Not being at my best at midnight, I opted for sleep. Saturday kicked off with another rendition of WGP “Mutant Academy.” This time, the players were all New York (state)-ers: Thor (editor extraordinaire), Mayuran (angst crafter extraordinaire), Phredd (joker-theif extraordinaire), and Storn (sketching guy extraordinaire). This time, the main villain was the evil mutant-supremecist Empress. During the game, Mayuran’s illusionist came to doubt her own reality and illusioned herself out of existence. Oh, and the Empress’s hidden lair was burned down by the flames of Wrath.

Saturday afternoon was my chance to play Shooting the Moon. There were six of us playing: Emily, Kat, Michele, me, Matthew Gandy, and … did I mention I suck with names? I’d know him to see him and he’s from coastal Maryland, near Adam Dray. And he’s a darn fine player. But no name in my head.

Anyway, Emily split us into three 2-person teams to make a Shakespearian comedy. She and Kat were with the first suitor, a wetnurse who was raising the duke’s daughter (but it was actually her daughter). Michele and Mr. Mystery Name were the second suitor, the daughter’s tutor with pretenses of good breeding, but actually had a twin sister that was in league with bandits and wanted by the law. Matt and I were the naive, near-sighted Duke who kept seeing the tutor and her sister, but believe it was just a mirror reflect. Our final play was called “Love’s Reflection, or Daughter of Deception.” So much grand laughter.

Oh, and the bandits burned my manor house down. See a pattern?

6pm was the Indie Party. I was unjustifiedly nervous about it, but Kat made sure it all went well. Around 40 folks enjoyed some fine With Great Chili, tandoori pork, and many assorted munchies. Many thanks to Kat, Jennifer Rodgers & Russell Collins, Don Corcoran & Joanna, Lisa Padol, and Shawn “Linkless” De Arment for they culinary generosity. Thanks to everyone else for their awesome attendance.

8pm brought something I had been looking forward to for quite a while: Wilderness of Mirrors (aka, the coolest spy game that you can’t get a hold of). Kevin Allen, Jr. ran John Wick’s exceedingly clever spy game for me, Thor, Rob Donoghue, and Michelle Tulley. It’s all about planning the ultimate spy mission, throwing in complications, circumventing those complications, and then playing the mission. And betrayal. We were assigned to steal a nuke that had been hidden in Prypiat, Ukraine. I blew up a building and the game ended with a vision of buring tank.

Midnight found me in the … wait for it … in the wargame room. I ran Mechaton for Bill, Rich, Steve, another missing name, and young Stephen. However, I set up the table TOO big for the (mini) giant fighty robots. We played for 3 and a half hours (including mech building). No one was able to move anywhere significant. But, hey, this is how you learn. Mechs were laser-zapped, rocketed, and flamethrower-ed to little plastic bits. Oh, the carnage.

This morning I had saved for socializing, check out, and business-talk. I kinda like that not everyone gets up early on Sunday. I generally don’t do well in big conversations, so I can talk to folks in groups of 2 or 3 as they drift in. I managed to learn of some more options for GenCon. Plus, I straightened out details for none other than Keith “Silhouette”-kowski to do the cover for By The Stars. It’s going to be good.

Okay, I’m fried. And so were an (imaginary) building in every game I played. What’s that about? Too much fun. Too little sleep.

Thanks so much for everyone who came, everyone who ran a game, played a game, bought a game, sold a game, or just talked gaming. On Thursday night when I was just walking around, I was reminded of something Mike Holmes used to say when he’d get to GenCon: “I am once more among my tribe.” That’s what I felt like. The tribe is going (and growing) strong. It was good to come home, if only for 3 days.

6 thoughts on “Dreamation 2007 – Burnin’ Down The House

  1. That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight…
    This is Matthew Gandy, the duke’s other half. I just friended you and wanted to mention how much I enjoyed the two sessions we played together.
    I am so glad you decided to use WGP.. rather than Sorcerer for By the Stars. Sorcerer would have made me cry. I’ve demoed it once and played it (well, Mu) once, and I’m not sold. WGP…, on the other hand – I felt like I got a two-fer, seeing By the Stars and getting a chance to try out the WGP… engine. Suffice to say, I’m impressed, I’m reading the game now, and I’m looking forward to trying it out with some of my local crew. I really dig the conflict scene mechanics – it’s the sort of back-and-forth essential to supers that I’ve been looking to emulate in a game of my own.

    • Re: That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight…
      Glad you liked the game. I didn’t spend nearly enough time getting feedback afterward. I’ll have to pick your brain when I have more time.

  2. That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight…
    This is Matthew Gandy, the duke’s other half. I just friended you and wanted to mention how much I enjoyed the two sessions we played together.
    I am so glad you decided to use WGP.. rather than Sorcerer for By the Stars. Sorcerer would have made me cry. I’ve demoed it once and played it (well, Mu) once, and I’m not sold. WGP…, on the other hand – I felt like I got a two-fer, seeing By the Stars and getting a chance to try out the WGP… engine. Suffice to say, I’m impressed, I’m reading the game now, and I’m looking forward to trying it out with some of my local crew. I really dig the conflict scene mechanics – it’s the sort of back-and-forth essential to supers that I’ve been looking to emulate in a game of my own.

  3. Re: That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight…
    Glad you liked the game. I didn’t spend nearly enough time getting feedback afterward. I’ll have to pick your brain when I have more time.

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