What Happened At SimCon

At the con, this dude showed up, right? With a case full of Samurai swords? Like how at a flea market, people show up and sell weapons? Well, no, this wasn’t a flea market, and yeah, the only weapons this guy sold were Samurai swords. Everything seemed fine the first day, but then in the middle of the second day, right in the center of the con floor (not far from registration), the guy whips out one of the swords and cuts himself right across the arm with it. Like some kind of demonstration, right? And next thing you know, a fucking snake comes up out of the arm slit — like, it pushes its way out of the hole like a baby being born, a snakebaby, and that little monster hisses and –

Oh, okay, none of that shit happened.

SimCon was good, but from the perspective of “making a great blog post,” it’s probably pretty dang boring.

The people who brought me here were great. (Did I mention that the person who officially extended the invite knows me not actually from my gaming, but is one of my Flickr contacts? More proof that you sometimes just need to throw a pebble, yo.) So, thanks to Darcy and Justin for this, and thanks to Melanie, the con chair, for getting it all done.

My “writing for the game industry” talk was good — sparsely attended (what, 7, 8 people?), but the people there were diligent enough to ask questions and pin me to the corkboard for the full two hours of the talk, so that was very cool. The talk went way outside of writing for the game industry, but hey, so what?

Both games were solid.

Fear-Maker’s Promise was a nice wow-moment because, while only 4 of the 6 players showed up (it was 9:30 AM, after all), three of those players “loved my work” and had actually played this module before. Heck, two of them had played it multiple times, and seemed to really love it. Those three players were great, very into it. The fourth was cool, fine, but perhaps because he was separate from the other three, he kind of continued to take his own independent path through the game, and by the end, got actively aggro with the other characters (throwing rocks at them when they fell down into ravines, stuff like that). That’s always interesting to me, because — it almost seems impolite to dick around with a character played by a person you simply don’t know. You’re basically screwing with a total stranger.

Still, that game was nice.

The evening game — well, all the awesome advice from the other day (…64 fucking comments?! — thanks, peeps!) helped me settle on Bad Night At Blackmoon Farm as the game of the night. Especially the Brontosaurus advice, which is just giving me the tingly-wingles every time I think about it, as it’s a really solid piece of game design advice in general. So, if you head on over to Eddy Webb’s shiny-ass new website, you’ll be able to read this post on games in which he actually uses the structure of both Blood Drive and Bad Night as examples. The image map provided with Bad Night (again, seen at his site, so make with the clickity-clickity) could actually be drawn as a Brontosaurus, it’s that spot on.

So, I sit down at 7:30 to run that game, and… a big holy-shit fucking lot of people show up. See, the con’s database shit the bed, and they lost the ability to cap the pre-reg’s for the game.

And 18 people preregistered for the Hunter game. Which is awesome, especially at a con of 300 people (which is like, what, six percent of the con-goers wanted to play in my Hunter game?).

Now, 18 people didn’t show — but I nine sure did, and I really wanted to run a game for five, but I decided I could run a game for six instead, which still left three people out in the cold…

Or does it?

dun dun dun!

*crash of thunder*

*dramatic music*

So, what we did was, three people came back two hours into the four hour session and swapped some characters and just jumped into the adventure as it continued — no restarts or anything.

And they actually finished the story in four hours!

Holy shit!

The group was great. Nine total people over four hours, each in groups no larger than two, and they worked very well together. From the beginning, I asked them if they wanted to just have their characters thrown into it as individuals, or if they wanted to know one another. They wanted to know one another, and they played it throughout. Very satisfying. Great stuff, great group, glad the story went well.

Hey, someone used their breasts as a weapon.

One guy beat up a severed head.

The criminal was the most virtuous.

The detective almost died via a gut shot.

Someone accidentally burned a girl alive in a grain silo.

Lots of gunplay. Lots of crazy shit. Tense cult action on a distant farm.

Oh, one thing, too — with the pre-gens, I take the tack that I do up the character sheets pretty thoroughly, but I always leave something behind for the players to fill in. In this case, it was just Skill Specialties, but even that little bit helps them paint their own visions for the characters a little more completely. I have in the past also let them choose their own Virtues and Vices.

So, that’s that. Huzzah. Ta-da. Now it’s time to drive the fuck home (ugh, five hour drive, five hour drive).

Later, nerds.

12 comments

  • Tell us more about how you ran the games, how long they took, what happened that was unexpected, and what you did about that session that apparently had 16 people signed up for it.

  • Will –

    Each was four hours. Got maybe halfway through Fear-Maker’s. Got all the way through Blackmoon.

    Fear-Maker’s, since people had played it, seemed especially to call for a rearrangement and reintro, so I started the story in a different place (changeling characters out in the Hedge hunting for stabapple thorns for Red Wren’s shopping list, and they don’t know that they’re providing elements for the Children’s Contract).

    Blackmoon also demanded I start deeper in — so, the hunters all awoke as prisoners inside the farm compound.

    Unexpected? I dunno. Hard to say, because by and large everything is unexpected at a con game. The fact that during Blackmoon they all played very well together and basically cemented a six-person hunter cell comprising total strangers? Awesome. The fact that in Fear-Maker’s, political considerations rose to the fore even tough I didn’t make them an elevated part of the story? Great stuff.

    The game that had 16 people — I didn’t have to deal with all 16. Some of them obviously were told and didn’t show. But nine did show, and I did pretty much just as I described: six stayed and played for two hours, then the remaining three came back and swapped characters with three of the current players, but the story itself continued from the same spot (meaning, we didn’t start over).

    – c.

  • Chris, thanks for coming up to Rochester. I was the tall guy who was the first to show up for the game-writing talk. I didn’t know you before the con, so it felt wrong showing up for the games you ran. I appreciate the advice, even though I doubt much will happen there. There’s a lot of supply.

    • Were I to change my name to Chris Wendig, then I will be named after my mother instead of my father, and I will further share my name with an aunt.
      :)

      @Rob:

      For years, YEARS, I never brought business cards. This was an ass-kick of a mistake. I should’ve done something, even something simple — so, yes, good advice. For me especially, because nobody can spell my damn name and they need a reference!

      – c.

    • Were I to change my name to Chris Wendig, then I will be named after my mother instead of my father, and I will further share my name with an aunt.
      :)

      @Rob:

      For years, YEARS, I never brought business cards. This was an ass-kick of a mistake. I should’ve done something, even something simple — so, yes, good advice. For me especially, because nobody can spell my damn name and they need a reference!

      – c.

Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds