Closing in on the Elusive … Name

Thanks to all who suggested names. Kat and I have been suggesting several of them, plus ones of our own creation, to one another over the weekend. The current front-runner is: “Serial Homicide Unit: Hunting the Hunters”

I like it. It’s a simple, direct name for a simple, direct game. But, what do you think?

ALSO, the deadline for playtests of this game is six weeks from today: September 9. If you, or anyone you know, has not yet played the game, and would be interested in playtesting (and receiving a free electronic copy of the game for your trouble), please contact me in the comments or at my gmail account: stalwartIP

Thanks!

What to call the game?

I mentioned earlier that Serial has an image problem. People really enjoy the game once they play it, but are very reluctant to play (or playtest) it to begin with. Kat and I think we need to focus more on the police procedural aspects of gameplay when explaining the game, rather than the day-in-the-life-of-the-victim stuff.

Due to this the game also needs a new name. “Serial” also makes perfect, elegant sense AFTER you know what it is, but says nothing BEFOREHAND and isn’t esoteric enough to intrigue people into finding out more.

Plus, when spoken, makes people say “Like breakfast cereal?”

Kat did an LJ entry looking for new titles, but as we have slightly different readerships, I wanted to solicit the brian trust over here. What would be a good name for Serial? A name that says “Play this game and catch a murdering monster” but it a short, snappy way.

Suggestions?

DexCon 2008–A Cool Oasis from the Summer Heat

This weekend was DexCon 2008. It went really well, as always. The folks at Double Exposure always do their best to put on a great convention. This one was a bit truncated for me, since I couldn’t get any time off work, but nevertheless, a great deal of fun!

Wednesday evening I had to drive Kat out to the con, drop her off, and come home for two more days of work. It was hectic, and I forgot how to be a bachelor on Thursday night, but one does what one must.

The con for me started on Friday. After an amazingly traffic-free drive on Friday evening, Michele, Dalys, and I arrived with nearly an hour to spare before my 8pm game. That game was Mechaton, which was fun, as always. I won the first game, so I sat out and officiated for the second. I probably ought to upgrade my supplies, but it was a good time, blowing up Lego mechs, and siezing glory for plastic bricks everywhere.

Throughout the weekend, I also did much greeting and chatting with folks I had not seem for a time–like a few weeks (Fred, the Robs, the Whites, the Corcorans) or a few months (Scott) or 6 months (Nathan, Bret, Matt Weber) or nearly a year (Tony). Good stuff.

Saturday morning I was supposed to run Serial, but I had no players. This happened again on Sunday, as it did a few times at Origins. The game definitely has an image problem. We’re thinking of changing the name, and the direction of the marketing copy to focus more on the team of police investigators. I was saying to Scott Lesher that I feel a bit like a salesman for broccoli. When people actually play the game/eat their broccoli, they enjoy it and they know that it’s good. But getting them to sit down and actually do it is tough.

By the time Serial officially folded, the games I had hoped to get into were all full. I was about to do the whole “hang around” thing for 4 hours, but then I ran into Lowell who was also looking for a game. He figured he play in Tony D’s Complete Mafia d20, just because it hadn’t started yet. I figured 4 hours of that was better than 4 hours of “hanging out” and I was right (which says a lot about how little I enjoy “hanging out.”) There were three players (me, Lowell, and a guy named Warren who was a Mafia fan), and we played small-time crooks trying to work our way up in the American Yakuza of a Las Vegas-stand-in city. We did two jobs, an easy one that went pretty well, and a harder one that ended in a bloodbath. After hearing Tony talk about the way some of the other games have gone at cons (many, many bloodbaths) I think the game might need a new subtitle: “d20 Mafia: Why Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

Mechanically, the game has added weakness for eacy character, like “gambling addict” or “adreneline junkie” that work a bit like compelled Aspects in SotC, but without the carrot, just the stick. We had fun with ours, which is what led to the blood bath. The way it was structured, just what in-game actions were worthy of XP, Reputation within the underworld, and Suspicion from the police were kept secret until after each mission was completely finished. I think some interesting gameplay might arise if those were known beforehand, and the players had to choose where to take their risks. As a d20 game, it suffered from boring combat, and the lack of any resources to spend to give any single roll any importance. But, it was not bad play, although had the group been larger, I think it could have been, due to lack of screen time and other groupthink behaviors.

Saturday afternoon I ran my With Great Power… game “The Monster Squad.” It went fairly well. Almost all the players at the game were new to With Great Power, but we had some definite comic book fans who appreciated the bizarreness of Monster Squad characters. They ended up destroying much of Dr. Grotesque’s underground lair, AND compelling a confession from the Utopian about how he had slandered their good names as part of a lover’s quarrell with Professor Fogg. The game rollicked along at a good pace, but never quite reached that critical mass. After the Dreamation game, I’ve been trying out a bit of a looser GM style, which might explain it. I think I need a looser style with experienced players (of indie-games-in-general) and a tighter style with completely new players. Maybe that goes to show that WGP is a decent beginner’s game?

Saturday evening was the Indie Party, which went well after a bit of room confusion. Rob runs much, much better parties than Kat and I did, so I’m very glad he’s taken on that job. Several folks did mention that they missed the With Great Chili. If so, send me and e-mail and I’m sure we can arrange a catered weekend stay in the glorious Miller abode 😉

Saturday night saw me again unable to get into any of the interesting-looking games. Jeff Collyer and his friend Glen also found themselves in a similar situation, so Kat ran With Great Power… for us, and Michele, down in the lobby of the hotel. She pulled out her latest “Liberty League” scenario, and it was great, great fun. I’m particularly glad that I took notes on the ways she runs WGP differently than I do, because, as I’ve often said, she runs it better than I do, and it’s instructive to see the master in action. Oh, and we barely thwarted the nefarious Dr. Venom from bio-evolving the entire city!

Sunday morning saw my second Serial game fold. That wasn’t too bad, as I had to check out, pack the car, and do a little shopping. In between those things, I came back to watch Kat running WGP’s “Crossover” game for Bill White, Michele, and a guy whose name I don’t recall. The mind controlling insects of the Mumbral Hive very nearly took over the world. They were stopped, but had completely rewritten 3 different comic book series in the process, as crossovers are wont to do. It sounded like a good game.

That was it except for the good-byes. Dexcon is a great con. I can’t wait for Dreamation!

Rolling the Bones, and making them do tricks.

I’ve got a game idea kicking around in my head. Nothing may come of it. But if it does, it will use … dice!

Of course, it will need dice that do funky things. Specifically, the dice need to have a probability curve that looks like a capital-M, or two camel humps. The extreme results need to be more likely than the median.

Dice tricks are not my forte, so I’m a bit stuck. Any suggestions?