Monday, March 30, 2009

Conpulsion 2009

Conpulsion is one of my 'local' conventions - if you consider local to be in Edinburgh! Its an old con that I used to frequent as a CCG player and now trawl as a RPG designer. Its set in the Teviot building of Edinburgh SU, which is essentially Hogwarts. I attended as part of the Collective Endeavour posse (naturally) and we had a very successful weekend!

Personally, I had an -exceptional- weekend.

I am constantly shocked, stunned and humbled by the success of Duty & Honour. It seems to have taken on that scary 'life of its own' thing. There seemed to be a real buzz around the con (or at least around the CE table) about the game and that was very gratifying. In fact, I really need to do some work on what to do when people gush at me. I've mentally sorted out how to deal with people being negative about the game, I sort of forgot about having a strategy for the good stuff. Currently it seems to be:
  • Shuffle my feet
  • Look embarassed
  • Mumble something in Carry On style 'embarassed British'

I need something a little more engaging! Anyway, I also ran the game, which is a tale unto itself but was a great laugh and a success. I had a good playtest for BtQ with the Aberdeen crew which answered quite a few questions. Hell, a copy of D&H even went for £50 on the charity auction!

Good stuff - definitely pencilling in for next year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Odds and Sods

1. Last episode of Battlestar Galactica tonight. I will cry, its inevitable.

2. Playtesting has started for 'Beat to Quarters'. After months of reading, thinking and note-taking, its all spilling out onto the laptop, which is very gratifying!

3. Looked at how much material I have amassed for the D&H 1809 Miscellany and I was pleasantly shocked. Well over halfway done.

4. D&D4e continues to delivery large packets of awesome although we are running into some adult-life related scheduling difficulties. It had to happen eventually.

5. Still doing my once-a-week raiding thing in WoW and having a blast. Found a nice WoW-Life balance which is suiting everyone

6. I am sat next to a mountain of marking. I foresee much dullness in my future...

7. Off to Conpulsion this weekend, in Edinburgh. Its a funny old convention but its also one of the last areas that hasn't had direct D&H sales, so I should move a few units. Full day of sales on the stall on Saturday. Fun.

8. My Life with Smoothies continues apace. Whilst I may not be losing any noticeable weight, I do feel very virtuous!

9. Kids are coming up to their SATs. Topics around testing of children for no purpose other than to test the school send me into a seething rage at this moment in time.

10. The lawn has been mowed, the garden reclaimation plan is laid and the Council is giving us a proper segmented recycling bin. Woot!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hack and Squeek!

I have come into possession of a copy of the Mouse Guard rpg. This game is based on the Mouse Guard comics and runs using a simplified version of The Burning Wheel system. Now, members of my playgroup may well be shuddering when they hear that as our experiences of Burning Wheel have been less than stellar but I am happy to report that Mouse Guard seems to have done a good job of boiling down the essence of BW whilst stripping away a lot of the dire crunch which has always been a hiccup.

In the game you play mice who have taken up arms to protect their society against the threats flung against it by other mice, animals and Mother Nature itself. The setting has a sort of post-medieval feeling to it without feeling fantastical and the premise is very strong for group play. Its a little Redwall, a touch Robin Hood, a little Tales of Desperaux - you get the idea. Now just because the PCs are mice does not mean that they are quiet little dudes. No, these can be bad ass mice with swords and axes who are warred upon by Weasels and fight snakes and crabs (which are naturally giant crabs) and have all the drama and impact of any other game.

The scene economy in Mouse Guard has tweaked my interest as well, if only because it offers something new and yet familiar. The GM sets a mission for the players and as part of that mission the players have to overcome obstacles - challenges, if you will - before they can succeed. If you 'fail' a test on an obstacle, the game takes a 'twist' and a new obstacle is formed. This is ran very much in the tried and tested GM-authors, Player-plays model of gaming. However, when the obstacles have been overcome (or not) the GM takes a back seat and there is a 'player turn' where the players can pursue their own goals etc. They each get one scene plus extra scenes if they did interesting stuff during the GM's turn. Thats simplifying it a lot, but it sits as a nice half-way house between the 'trad' method of delivery and the player-authored stuff that is around a lot nowadays. It would be interesting to see how it played out or whether it was too procedural.

All in all, it looks like a good game. Whether it is my understanding of BW that has increased or the simplification of the rules, but even the conflict system seems more understandable this time. Goals, beliefs and instincts make sense. There is no 'artha' word, but the points are still there. It looks promising and moreover (or worryingly) the girls have noticed it and want to play.