Dreamation 2016

Wow. What a #Dreamation.

As always, Vinny, Avie, and the entire Double Exposure crew made great things happen flawlessly and invisibly. They are amazing and I thank them deeply.

Jason Morningstar compared Dreamtion to a family reunion and he’s absolutely right. Except that there’s more people I’m excited to see at Dreamation.

Thursday, 8PM
For me, I started off the con with a game of Swords Without Master: Starward on Thurday night. It’s a supplement for SWoM that draws inspiration from Leigh Brackett, Flash Gordan, Akira Kurosawa, and WWII aviation films (just like a somewhat popular 1977 film you may have heard of). Andrew and Brian, neither of whom had played any SWoM before, both created fallen space knights. Patty played a translator/scientist from “not the United Federation of Planets”. They delved into a planet-sized ancient starship to find the lost panacea that would end a galaxy-wide plague. Despite the space skeletons and pirates, they got the cure and delivered it, but were cheated out of glory by the scheming space senate. How will they possibly clear their names? Find out in the next exciting episode of Starward!

Friday, 9AM
Friday morning, Bill White was running With Great Power. To keep myself from being a neurotic mother hen, I intentionally scheduled myself something else to do. I facilitated one of my favorite games: Serial Homicide Unit. Adam, Michael, Joann, Ephraim, Ian, and I told the stories of the workers and patients of the Helping Hands clinic, who just so happened to be hunted by a serial killer. The best and brightest of our characters were cut down just as their life turned around, while the worst thrived. It was sad and touching, just as SHU always is. I love this game.

Friday, 2PM
Friday afternoon, I got to play Bill White’s The New World. I played it several time over its many years of gestation, and this was the best version yet. So quick! So evocative! So fun! I think 2016 is finally the year for The New World. Just a few rough edges to polish and this one is ready to publish. We wove a tale of the last great city of learning in a fallen land, forcing the survivors of fallen cities into servitude, and the ambitious sand pirates that plagued them.

Friday, 6:55PM
Matt, Chris, and Chris had asked if I could run a demo of With Great Power for them. Asking me to run my game is my own personal Kryptonite, so run we did. In a quick 45 minutes, they made heroes and we played a couple of exciting phases.

Friday, 8PM
Finally, after years of trying, I got to play Sorcerer with Judd. It was a colonized solar system setting, with Adam portraying the secretly half-alien president of Mars, MadJay playing a xenoarcheologist, and me playing a horrible, Captain Bligh-type starship captain with xenotech fused into his head. If you’ve ever played a video game and took a while to understand the controls, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I often have trouble steering my character in Sorcerer. This game was no exception. I’d go into a scene thinking “I’ll show a bit of humanity, a bit of compassion” and then proceed to do the most evil stuff imaginable, like murdering a conscientious traitor, and trying to murder the president of Mars. I’m really, really glad I played. I’m uneasy with how the game went. And that’s exactly what Sorcerer is about.

Saturday, 9AM
I ran With Great Power for a group of three players: Jen played Noir, who could speak to ghosts; Nick played Mantis, who had instectoid alien power armor; and Adam played Blindspot, who could not be noticed, except on camera. Together, they faced down the flame-bodied Crucible who wanted to give superpowers to everyone in the entire world so that her husband could accept her as “normal”. It was a quick, fun session with green mutagenic gas at an MMA fight, quiet discussions on a park bench, a burning building, and punching a woman made of living flame in the face.

Saturday, 2PM
Joshua A.C. Newman’s The Name of Bronze is a work in progress. I like where it’s going and will be excited when it gets there. In our short session with Frank, Keith, and Matthew, I played Unlu, champion of Mard—tallest mountain and roof of the world. In Mard’s service, I crushed a rival mountain with my bare hands. It was interesting, and I could see where it will be fun once the whole game is communicated properly.

Saturday, 8PM
I finally played Torchbearer. Tony, Stephen, Carly and I did pretty well in Bret’s weird old school dungeon. Nobody died. We scored some loot. We rescued a guy from being eaten by a giant spider. I have my doubts about the “if you suggest an idea you have to be the one to roll for it” rule. I can see that the game is engineered to produce a particular type of experience and does it very, very well. It’s just not an experience I particularly enjoy. That’s an important thing to know.

Sunday, 10AM
A second game of With Great Power, this one with five players: Kat played the Scales of Justice/Dragon Princess who was rebelling against her dragon-tyrant father; Blair played the Winter Knight, born of Fey and fighting to hold onto his humanity; Karin played The Shade, who could speak the ghost of Andrew Carnegie; Ami played Feeback, an alien made of music who could take on the form of Jimi Hendrix; Kay played Refraction, a woman who lost most of her memories in the accident that turned her into a living hologram. Together they faced Upload, a robot from the future who was trying to force human society up to where future history said it ought to be, using things like nanobots to install mandatory upgrades in people. We had some great images like a dragon melting the snow off a blizzard-choked roadway to clear a path for ambulances, medical equipment exploding due to supernatural interference, living hologram destroying the evil nanotech disguised inside of charity blankets, and a fey knight cutting the tongue off a building-sized dragon.

Oh, and I also sold some actual, physical copies of With Great Power. Which made me very happy, and I hope will make all who bought it happy, too. Anyone who bought the game at Dreamation can contact my Gmail account (stalwartip) to get the electronic edition at no additional charge. The game and the origin cards will be available for order by the end of the month.

There is never enough time to see everyone I want to at Dreamation. I’m very glad for everyone I got to chat with, or game with, or even smile at in the hall. Thank you for a wonderful weekend.

Some history of the Indie Games eXplosion: The early years!

Over on Google Plus, James Stuart asked about the history of the IGX. I started typing, and I wanted to preserve it somewhere that I wouldn’t lose it. https://plus.google.com/u/0/112165300112510479765/posts/GDDVGX2GPqw

Holy smokes, how much detail do you want? Most importantly, how much detail do I want to write?

*Prehistory*
The IGE did not leap fully formed from the head of Zeus. There were a number of things that had gone before that provided ideas of what worked and what didn’t.

~The Forge Booth at GenCon had run at GenCon 2002, 2003, and 2004. Luke Crane, Vincent Baker, and I participated in 2003 and 2004. Luke had been promoting Burning Wheel heavily at NYC-area conventions since early 2003. By 2005, he had an inventory of other people’s indie games that he’d offer for sale at his booth. This was the kernel of what became “the booth” at Dreamation.

~My wife and I had been attending local gaming conventions in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey area since 1998 and GMing games. We ran games that we liked and hoped that people would show up. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. We learned to streamline our pitches, how to liven up our event descriptions, and how to fold a game with insufficient players.

~Personally, I was interested and excited by these weird little games coming out of the Forge and wanted more people to play them. I thought that being able to offer a whole slate of games as a single, related entity would draw more players for everybody, just like the Forge booth did for sales. I even tried to put such a thing together a year earlier at another series of conventions run by Wild Gazebo Productions. Unfortunately, the Wild Gazebo conventions folded up in late 2004.

*Dreamation 2005*
This con is where it all started. I think there were many factors that formed the fertile soil that has grown this particular community. I’ll try to break them down as best I can.

I’m going to show my dyed-in-Forge colors by posting you to links. One of the foundational bits, the incredibly generous and welcoming invitation the Double Exposure made to a bunch of no-name, enthusiastic game designers on their home turf: http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=13124.0 That continuously helpful, welcoming attitude of Double Exposure has been the bedrock that makes everything else possible. Some convention organizers (particularly circa 2005) treated publishers primarily as an additional revenue source, and Double Exposure has never been like that. They always regarded our success as their success and that is priceless!

And another foundational bit was that fact that, as was kinda common on the Forge in those days, we organized our participation in public: http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=13281.0 This allowed people (even if it was mostly one another) see what we were planning, get excited about it, and plan to attend the show.

Another bit is that IGE 2005 had an incredible concentration of talent: Vincent Baker running the five-months-old Dogs in the Vineyard. Time Kleinart, Tony Lower-Bausch, Bill White, Keith Senkowski, and myself running our still-in-playtest games The Mountain Witch, Capes, Ganakagok, Conspiracy of Shadows, and With Great Power. In those days when it seemed like d20 could do anything, Tav Behemoth was there with his Masters and Minions series of modules. Some dude in fancy sneakers called Jared Sorensen showed up to chat and actually play some games. Great players (and online posters) like Judd Karlman, Joshua A.C. Newman, Andrew Morris, and Rob Bohl were there.

Because of the concentration of talent and the flurry of convention-fueled posting that followed, the online reputation that Dreamation earned was HUGE. I messed up the rules of My Life with Master and that session still became a thing that people who weren’t even there would talk about about. The Forge has been called an echo chamber, but an echo chamber is what you need when you’re trying to make something loud enough to be heard.

*Trends post-2005*
The importance of consistency cannot be over-stated. The fact that we do this every year meant that not only people who had heard about the indie presence online knew to come to Dreamation to look for good games, but also the convention staff and regular convention attendees who weren’t active online. A lot of people would sign up for one game, enjoy it, and then come back for others, or tell their friends that they had a good experience. Having a group identity made it possible for players to not just follow a single “good GM” from game-to-game, but have faith that every IGE game was going to be new and interesting and like nothing they’d seen before.

Also, the fact that Vinny and Double Exposure was so accommodating to provide booth space as close to the gaming space as possible was HUGE. It gave the event a focal point, a place to check in, to chat with fellow designers and newly-made friends, to hang banners and to show off games that looked as little like traditional RPGs as their game mechanics played like them. Every time we had to move hotels, I was scared that events and booth were going to need to be separated, allowing the energy to dissipate. These days, Dreamation is so big that it has multiple focus points at Jim’s booth, around the bar, the open tables near the waterfall, wherever the LARPers decompress, etc. But having a focal point is very important.

In the early years, we would do parties and try to feed everybody, but we quickly outgrew the capacity to do that.

One of the great things is that there were a number of years (2007-2009, maybe? I don’t recall) that Kat and I couldn’t organize anything, because of life circumstances we were lucky to be able to show up and play. And the community had grown to the point that other people (Emily Care Boss, Joshua A.C. Newman, Jenn “Jennisodes” Steen) stepped up and kept the torch moving and growing.

I’m going to end this ramble here for now. Ask questions! Old, balding guys like me need our memories prodded in order to cough up anything useful.

Dreamation 2011: Mice and Ice, Mystery, Lycanthropy, and Identity

My head cold is just as bad now as it was when I arrived at Dreamation, but I feel a whole lot better.

After one of the most trying months of my life, we managed to make it through the wilds of New Jersey on Friday night, with barely an hour to spare. I ran my tried-and-true Mouse Guard scenario “The Spring Thaw” with five great players, including Ralph Mazza and Andrew Morris. While it didn’t quite soar, it was a good solid run, with the mice decimating the fox and then convincing the selfish town captain to abandon his wicked ways. It likely should have been a bit more challenging, but with the stress and the cold, I didn’t have it in me.

Saturday morning was Ganakagok. When the schedule was forming up, I noticed that no one was running Ganakagok or With Great Power… Those two games had been run at every IGE at Dreamation since we started in 2005. I didn’t feel that they should both go down the same year, so I signed up to run Ganakagok. And I’m sure glad I did. The game has never failed to deliver for me. Something about the imagery of the tarot manages to effortlessly bring everyone onto the same page. As before, my adversity may have been a bit weak, but the Medicine economy more than made up for it. The hearth-fire of judgment rose, and melted all the unworthy Nitu, leaving Ralph’s urgent prophet to become the new divine leader.

Saturday afternoon afforded me the opportunity to play in a game. Luckily there was a seat in Kat’s “A Taste for Murder” game. It was my first time playing, and I really enjoyed it. Our household was a rank nest of dysfunction, debauchery, and betrayal. Jeff Collyer’s cook turned out to be the murderer, but we were terrible people, all of us.

Saturday night enabled us to have dinner with Bill Segulin at the Famished Frog, which is a grand, rejuvenating tradition. It was great to see Bill, even if only briefly.

Saturday night, I was supposed to run Mouse Guard and had a full complement signed up, but only Sam Zell actually appeared at the table. He quickly found something cooler to do, and so did I. Buddha Davis, George, Jason Morningstar and I adjourned to a quiet suite to play Love in the Time of Seið. I’m so far out of the loop these days, I hadn’t even heard of the game. But playing it I can see how it builds on older designs, with a strong game design aesthetic of its own. I played The Princess, and really enjoyed watching as, over the course of 3 hours, she matured from a naive and romantic girl, to an overreaching young woman unsure of her own power, to a powerful, decisive beast who still had the heart to mourn for what she had lost. It’s a great game.

Sunday morning we had another heaping helping of angst for breakfast, in a great game of Serial Homicide Unit. The profile was “people working on our second chances.” It’s cool to see patterns in your games when you run them enough. With six players (which we had), there’s always at least a bit of silly. This time it was the balloon animals that the serial killer left at the crime scenes. But, the game also consistently delivers at least one moment of full-fledged audience investment and sympathy for one of the civilians. This time, it was a male-to-female transgender person just trying to get a fair shake from her boss. She succeeded and everyone cheered. And the next moment we opened a small envelope to learn she had been cruelly murdered. I really, really love that game.

I barely got to chat with anyone. I didn’t get to play or shop or hang out nearly as much as I wanted to. But that’s okay. I dusted off my gamer-skin, and tugged it on, and it still fit. As life requires me to put it back in mothballs for a few more months, just the memory of its return will be a comfort.

Thanks to all who helped make such a great con.

Dreamation 2010 – An Island of Sanity (Part One)

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!

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The Dreamation Schedule is Up!

The Dreamation master schedule is up! The events that Kat and I are running are as follows:

R143: Mouse Guard; “The Pirates of Rustleaf Temple” by Michael Miller. An INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED GAME from Archaia Studios Press – Part of the Indie Games Explosion! Mouse Guard is mice with swords! The autumn shipments from Rustleaf have been waylaid by bloodthirsty, redfurred pirates! Can the Mouse Guard foil the villains and save the harvest? Thursday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM; One Round; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Fun, All Ages. See Also: R161.

R144: Serial Homicide Unit; “CSI Vegas: The Showgirl Strangler” by Kat Miller. An INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED GAME from Incarnadine Press – Part of the Indie Games Explosion! Based on the TV show CSI. Play a member of Grisham’s CSI team working to solve who is behind a string of showgirl killings. Thursday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM; One Round; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Fun, Under 18 Requires Parental Clearance. See Also: R271.

R161: Mouse Guard; “The Pirates of Rustleaf Temple”. See R143. Friday, 9:00AM – 1:00PM; One Round.

R164: With Great Power…; “Sidekicks” by Kat Miller. An INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED GAME from Incarnadine Press – Part of the Indie Games Explosion! Sidekicks are the unsung heroes of hero stories. You and your friends happen to be the Sidekicks of high profile heroes and second in commands of Super villains. Its time the world knew what real heroes were like. Friday, 9:00AM – 1:00PM; One Round; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Fun, All Ages. See Also: R229.

R182: Everway; “Miss Fortune” by Kat Miller. The teller flips over the fate card, but the card is blank. All of them are blank. She tries to speak and finds herself mute. Has Fate merely taken a holiday, or is there something sinister behind the missing fortune cards? Friday, 2:00PM – 6:00PM; One Round; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Fun, All Ages.

W378: Mechaton; “Bricks! Good God, Y’all, What Are They Good For?”. An INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED GAME from Incarnadine Press – Part of the Indie Games Explosion! Cry havoc! Build your army brick-by-Lego-brick and war against your opponents. May the best fighty robot win! Mechs provided, or bring your own. Friday, 2:00PM – 6:00PM; One Session; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Fun, All Ages. See Also: W612.

R221: Serial Homicide Unit; “Nowhere is Safe” by Michael Miller. An INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED GAME from Incarnadine Press – Part of the Indie Games Explosion! A killer hunts the innocent. Can you stop the murders? Bring a rampaging serial killer to justice as you portray investigators of the elite Serial Homicide Unit. Thrill to the terror as you follow the lives of the killer’s next victims. Saturday, 9:00AM – 1:00PM; One Round; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Serious, Under 18 Requires Parental Clearance. See Also: R290.

R271: Serial Homicide Unit; “CSI Vegas: The Showgirl Strangler”. See R144. Saturday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM; One Round.

W612: Mechaton; “Bricks! Good God, Y’all, What Are They Good For?”. See W378. Saturday, 12:00AM – 4:00AM; One Session.

R290: Serial Homicide Unit; “Nowhere is Safe”. See R221. Sunday, 9:00AM – 1:00PM; One Round.

The complete Indie Games Explosion scheduled can be found here, on the event chart.

Only seven days! Yay!

IGE schedule extension

Looks like a-more-demanding-than-expected holiday season have gotten the better of Kat and my schedule-discipline. We’re extending the deadline until Wednesday, January 7 for all events to be in to us. For all those who’ve sent questions, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

A less intense Dreamation 2008

Where to start in summing up my experience at this year’s Dreamation? The biggest change was that Kat and I weren’t in charge of anything other than running our own games. That was very, very nice. The second biggest was the new hotel. It had lots of pluses (easier to navigate the area; lots of little rooms; better in-hotel restaurants) and a few minuses (lack of focused central space, like the other place’s huge atriums; slow elevators; claustrophobic staff suite). I think I’d be perfectly happy if we ended up there again. But what did I do?

THURSDAY
I had off the whole day, and spent most of it in convention prep, doing packing and printing out character sheets. We left once Dalys got out of school and arrived with plenty of time to check into the hotel and have a nice dinner w/ Bill Segulin.

Opening days are always cool because I can’t turn a corner without running into someone I’ve been missing for months, and this one was no different. Once gaming started, I leapt into Kat’s Everway game “Crisis on King’s Road.” I played The Sentinel who was bound to lop off the heads of 1,000 dishonest men in order for the dragon to give him the heart of his true love (which the dragon had stolen). Andrew played the bandit King of the Road who was bound to never leave the road as long as his love (an assassin) still lived. Bill played the King’s Guard, still serving the orders of the dead King, and dealing with a usurping Chancellor. Things got pleasantly convoluted, with my Sentinel cutting a swath through the dishonest folk of the road (including the bandit king’s assassin-love) and the rival for my love’s affections being revealed as the heir to the throne. It was a pretty good session, slightly complicated by Andrew thinking he had to leave at 10pm, and setting things up for that to be a decent point for him to drop out, and then Andrew learning that the other event didn’t start until midnight. Plus, it was uncommonly difficult to piece together the climax of our three tales. Perhaps it was just that we were all a little rusty. Maybe Kat or Bill or Andrew have better insight?

FRIDAY
The Friday morning slot started off a little late, but once it got going, what a session it was! I played Serial (the game about the victims of serial killer and the police that hunt the killers down that Kat and I are developing) with Kat, Emily Care Boss, Nathan Paoletta, Alexander Newman, and Nicholas Marshall. We settled on the profile being “artists” and had great stories about finding lost parents, trying to get married or trying to keep the kids or the girlfriend while keeping an art career going. My potential victim was a J.D. Salinger-esque recluse who wanted his no-talent protege to win the Pulitzer Prize. When everyone voted that he didn’t, I described a vitriol-filled press conference in which he broke down and admitted that the protege was his illegitimate son.

After a good lunch in the hotel cafe, Friday afternoon found me in the wargame room for Mechaton. I had 6 players show up, two of them with their own mechs! One of them had a flower for 1 blue die worth of camoflage and became a favorite target. I split the table into two groups of three, and answered rules questions. Both sides played multiple games, and I was able to jump into one and win.

After a sandwich in the staff suite, Friday evening found me playing something I can’t tell you about. Someday the truth can be known, but not today…

Friday midnight was The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. If I have a regret all weekend, this was it. On the surface, it was *grand.* People had been asking me about it all through the weekend, checking to see how many people I could take. The description is so enticing, we had a number of folks I don’t normally see in the RPG room come out to give it a try. All told, there were 13 players, plus myself. Thus, I explained the rules of the game very briefly, and–since I had brought 2 copies–split things up into 2 tables and joined the smaller of the tables myself (mistake #1). Things started off very well with my tale of how I came to learn that apes and men were cousins (and then actually married one). In retrospect, perhaps this veiled implication of bestiality opened to floodgates to what came later. Alexander Newman told us of the little dog he met on the moon that spoke French. Jeff Lower told us how he became th king of Mbolo-Mbeleland by accident, and a player whose name I never learned wowed us all with a story of how he lost a week of his life building his own prision under the sea and was subsequently rescued by sea monkeys. Then things got highly uncomfortable, and I didn’t do a damned thing about it (mistake #2). There is MUCH matter there to be discussed, so I will move on with my con write-up and come back to the Munchausen game in an AP thread somewhere.

SATURDAY
Saturday began with the game I was most nervous about all weekend. I ran a new With Great Power… event called “The Monster Squad.” The sign-up sheet was full, and all the players (Judd Karlman, Paul Tevis, Remi Treuer, Joe [of the Durham 3], and Mark Causey) had previously sought me out to mention they were looking forward to it. It’s very got very strange, very comic-booky characters, plus I was testing out a few tweaks to the conflict system at the same time. I was less than 100% confident that we’d have a good time. With the players I had, I should not have been worried. Everyone sank their teeth into the angst of their roles and ran with it. There is also the fixings of an AP post there, I think. So, on we move.

Saturday afternoon saw family come to the fore, as my sister-in-law and her boyfriend had come out for the day to check out the con. After deciding that they hadn’t alotted themselves enough time to do it justice, we went for an extended lunch at Harold’s Deli with them, Michele, Bill & his daughter Casandra. I didn’t intend to bail out on Ryan Macklin’s A Penny for My Thoughts game, but priorities happen.

Saturday evening was the now-traditional Indie Party. My commendations again to Rob & Emily for a great recovery to a most unfortunate setback. It was great to see so many great people in one place.

Saturday evening gaming had me back in the wargames room, scheduled to run Mechaton. However, nobody showed. I suspect that by Saturday, most people apt to look into the wargame room are not looking for something casual like Mechaton. All the wargamers around me as I waited seemed gleefully immersed in their discussions of fields-of-fire, lines-of-sight and the like.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to jump into anything at 8pm due to waiting at the table until 8:15 to officially cancel the game. There was the possibility of playtesting Jason Morningstar’s new historical game, but the stars didn’t quite align. I ended up playing some board games with Kat, Michele, Dalys, Bill & Casandra.

Midnight was time for the Master. Master Alexander Newman, that is. Alexander wanted to demonstrate MLwM to Katie (whose last name I can’t recall). He invited myself, Kat, and Tobias to minion for him. We created a psychologist, Dr. Schliemann, who wanted to prove to Freud that lesser men don’t actually possess free will. As one of the Great Men with free will, the master was going to condition the entire town to ritually mutilate themselves on command. My minion was the Master’s blacksmith, who forged the implements the villagers used in their horrific actions. We had some good scenes, and Katie’s Horror Revealed about sleep-conditioning an orphanage full of children to drown themselves in the river was particularly chilling. Alexander admitted to being at less than his peak, and we all agreed that the session was only “okay.” There’s certainly some AP-meat there, but I know I won’t have the time to start it.

After that, I chatted with Luke, Clyde, Alexander & Katie about the possible production of Serial and got some great, great ideas. And I got to bed slightly after 4:00am.

SUNDAY
I was two minutes late to my Sunday morning game! It was due to the clunky elevators and not over-sleeping. I figured that it wouldn’t matter much, since the Sunday morning slot traditionally starts a bit late. Imagine my surprise to find that all my players (save one) were already waiting for me and afraid that I’d bailed on them! I don’t have the notebook with me with everyone’s name in it, but we had a full six players, so I simply facilitated things without a character. They chose “College Scholarship Students” as the Profile, and we focused on hopes like “I hope I make it to the NFL,” “I hope I pass my classes and don’t lose my scholarship,” “I hope I can still support my family,” “I hope I’m the first one in my family to graduate from college,” “I hope my dad doesn’t cut me off,” and “I hope my mom doesn’t end up teaching my class.” Things could have gone much better if I had simply read from a well-written script, as post-game chatter revealed that some of the unevenness in play was actually covered in the game text, but I had not explained it clearly in my sleep-deprived state.

A lot of the convention was like that for me–not quite firing on all cylinders. But, I got to say that if this weekend was me not at my best, then that’s saying quite a bit about where my best could be, since it was still such a positive experience. Thanks so much to everyone for a great con. Your enthusiasm is an inspiration!

Dreamation Top Secret Mouse Guard game

Friday evening I playtested Mouse Guard with Luke Crane, Russell Collins, and Luke’s friend Bob. I played Albrecht, and brown, low-ranking mouse with a white cloak. He was a cautious, conniving weather watcher. I love how both here and in Burning Empires the strict limits of how many rolls you can make focuses gameplay on strictly what’s important and cut off the directionless fat. It’s a scaled-down version of BW that I’m pretty certain I can use, and that I’ll enjoy even more than the Mouse Guard comics. I still need to make a little chart to see what’ legit to use when helping yourself and helping others. But anyway, we cleared the infestation of squirrels from Ivydale, smearing their blood hither and yon. This, of course, attracted a hungry fox that very nearly gobbled me up. Luckily, I so impressed the mayoress of Ivydale that she has requested my permanent reassignment to her fair city. I had to betray the best interests of my two fellow mice to make that deal, but nothing can come from nothing, right?
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