For months and months, I’ve been somebody else. A troubled, heartsick, disgusted, frustrated, isolated, curmudgeonly version of me. Not every day, but more often than not. And for the last four days, I had a chance to take off that heavy, confining suit, and put on a better skin–to be a better version of me. I got to be a smiling guy who helps out his friends, sees patterns in the interplay of game rules, and makes up some pretty damn cool shit. I got to go to Dreamation!
I’m taking a rest between the Christmas festivities at my mom’s house and taking everyone over to Kat’s family for the next phase. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but James Nostack writing an awesome actual play about his With Great Power… A completely unexpected Christmas treat!
The only time I can recall online discussion of a game of mine making me smile was an ancient RPG.net thread that called FVLMINATA the “worst initiative system of all time.” I relished the fact that I had outraged someone’s (several people’s, actually) sensibilities.
I’m a moderate at heart. I’m not in-your-face. I’m not offensive. But I still can’t wipe the smile off my face when I recall that thread.
Should I be doing more of that kind of thing? Should I be more assertive and controversial? I dislike when people generate controversy to garner attention. I find it cheapens any interaction.
But I’ve still got some assertive, controversial things to say. I just say them nicely. Serial Homicide Unit says to society and fanboy culture: “Your fixation on violence and identification with criminal behavior is wrong. It is sick and twisted. You’re on the wrong side.” It is a subversive game that puts the lie to its genre.
And nobody plays it.
Maybe I should be more controversial for the most American of reasons: To make more money.
I don’t know the answer to this. I’ve got to ruminate on it some more.
Gerald Cameron posted a review of SHU on Game Cryer I LOVE it when people grok what we were aiming for. It’s thought-provoking and well-written. Check it out!
Look at me. I’m positively a posting fool today! I just started a thread in the First Thoughts forum at the Forge about a game idea I hope to be working on in the near future. I’d appreciate any input:
Making the epic of history come alive
DEXCON 12 was only half a con for me, due to my inability to get any time off from work. It was a good time, but I couldn’t seem to get up a head of steam that would have made it a great time.
Scott Dunphy’s Story Shtick just started a three-part series on With Great Power… Check it out!
It’s about an hour and half since we arrived home from Origins 2009. I sit here with more caffiene than blood in my veins and try to unwind enough to go to bed. It was a great con. Attendance looked light, but the folks that were there had a good time. Here’s my high points of the show:
A rush to pack and an error made months ago with the rental car was a bit of a scare, but by the time Bill arrived, everything was A-OK. Got to bed late, but raring to go in the morning.
The Drive. Michele was battling a cold, so we took plenty of rest stops. I didn’t mind because we had no booth obligations and therefore no deadline. We left at a sane 7 AM and arrived about 4 PM, which allowed us to eat at the fabulous North Market. My pad thai was hotter than I could stomach, but that proved beneficial later on. We got checked in, taught Michele how to play Euchre, and got some sleep.
Both Kat and I wisely scheduled our Thursday games to begin at noon, so that we would avoid the early-morning lull that sometimes occurs when there’s a hiccup in the registration system. This time, there was no hiccup to worry about, but there was also a noticeable shortage of attendees. Even with a huge swath of the breezeway missing due to renovation, the place didn’t feel crowded enough. I think I got a picture of the crowd present at the opening of the exhibit hall, and it wasn’t nearly as large as it’s been in the past.
Anyway, I kicked the day off w/ dropping off 5 copies of SHU with the ever-gracious and ever-upbeat Andy Kitkowski. He and his boothmates allowed me to grab a bit of space in his booth to make SHU available for sale. It was greatly appreciated.
At noon, Kat ran a new WGP… scenario, and I ran Ganakagok. I had 2 players: Cary and Amber. Thinking that 2 characters would be too few in the reaction rounds, I also made a character myself. In the end, it added nothing to the game, and I wouldn’t do it again. The game was good (as always), and I even found a few ways to improve the text that I had overlooked while editing.
After dinner, I hung out a bit w/ Luke, Thor, Jared, and Jamey. We caught up on RL stuff. I got to see the tail end of Jamey’s satirical Nicotine Girls hack. Plus, we playtested … Yonder Knights! I never would have imagined playing that in my wildest dreams! The game doesn’t really work, but there was much discussion and diagnosis of exactly WHY it doesn’t work, which was really super helpful.
Friday started w/ both Kat and I having 10AM games. Hers was, of course, some incredible, amazing WGP… and mine was SHU. I had two great players: Todd and Lisa. We stopped a serial killer whose profile was that he was hunting down children’s entertainers. As often happens, the kinda silly profile did not impede the drama and tragedy of the inevitable deaths. I can’t think of a game that I enjoy more consistently than Serial Homicide Unit.
After the SHU game, I checked out the maiden voyage of Luke and Jared’s new seminar: Practical Game Design. It was a clear and informative roadmap to take someone from the Three Questions to being able to judge whether dice or cards will do the job their game needs done. It gave me much food for thought, particularly in light of the previous night’s unfun playtest.
One of the great disappointments of this year’s construction was the closing of the kitchen in the Krema Nut Company store. NO PEANUT BUTTER MILKSHAKES! However, Thor’s clever cell phone knew of the company’s headquarters store 2 miles away. Being New Yorkers, they were going to hoof it. But with my power of Rental Car, I got us to the peanut-flavored heaven and back again in air-conditioned comfort!
Friday evening saw a nice dinner w/ Kat, Bill, and Michele, and then chatting till midnight w/ the NYC crew.
Saturday was supposed to be my busiest day. I was scheduled to run SHU from 10AM to 2PM, and help Luke run a seminar from 1PM (fun scheduling error!) to 3PM, and then run Ganakagok from 8PM to midnight. Unfortunately, I had no players for SHU, which gave me far too much time to shop. I looked at every booth and still had time to spare before the panel.
The self publishing panel is, as Luke likes to call it, a firehose of information. We ran right up to the full 2 hour mark, barely stopping for questions and could have kept going. It’s a thrill to give that panel.
Afterwards, Luke was running a demo of Mouse Guard for a reviewer named Ben and his girlfriend Danielle. I sat in to bring the group up to three, and got to deliver the killing blow to a vicious milk snake that wanted to devour us all!
A surprising one-on-one dinner w/ Kat followed, which allowed for a nice de-stressing to occur.
After that, it was back to frozen lands of Ganakagok, where 6 players showed and we made a great myth about the splintering of the island and its fertile ground floating into the sunlit worlds.
Today started with some great news: Mouse Guard won the Origins Award for Best RPG! Congrats to Luke and the Burning Crew for another game well-designed (and one I can actually play this time!)
Then there was just last minute shopping, lunch, The Drive, and now this. An excellent weekend in an excellent city at an excellent con. You can’t ask for more than that.
The audio demo of Serial Homicide Unit is now available here.
Russell Collins, our esteemed narrator, has produced a brilliantly atmospheric and informative demo that is FULLY PLAYABLE. The recorded instructions are a bit longer than 7 minutes. They provide step-by-step instructions for playing a brief demo of Serial Homicide Unit. The demo is provided in MP3 format, and is 13.5MB. Feel free to link to this demo from wherever you think appropriate.
Try it for free. Protect the innocent. Hunt down a killer.
I just listened to the upcoming free demo of Serial Homicide Unit. Again, Russell Collins has used his vocal and musical talents to drive the dread of our game right up your ears and into your brain.
Look for it to be available for download on Monday.