Your Morning Head: The Games I played at Gen Con

gencon outside dealr rmIf you listen to the RPG podcasts coming out of last weekend’s Gen Con, you’ll no doubt hear a common question: What was your goal for Gen Con?  Me?  I came to town to play games.  And I did.  Lots of them.

I’ve already mentioned Luke Meyer’s very awesome scenario for Hunter: The Vigil, “The Monster.” I had hoped to get in on a play test of the new game that he’s developing.  It’s been known around the webz as Project MG. I can tell you that it has a real name and it is Iron Tyrants. It’s a miniatures game with battle mechs.  Luke showed me some of the artwork for the game.  Hot damn, it looks cool.  We’ll be seeing lots more of Iron Tyrants here on the site in the days to come.

Yesterday, I described the Necessary Evil game I played in with the Unnecessarily Bad GM.  ‘Nuff said.

What else did I play?

One of the games I desperately wanted to play at the con was Dogs in the Vineyard. In DITV, players assume the roles of God’s Watchdogs, or Dogs, dishing out justice across the Mormom State of Deseret in pre-statehood Utah. My buddy Jake ran us in a game.

murlin purdy
My Dogs in the Vineyard character sheet: Murlin Purdy

Generating characters for the game, I wrote up Murlin Purdy complete with appropriate “traits.”  Purdy was a man from a large, God-fearing family (“Strong Community”) that was thrown from a spooked horse as a child, breaking his leg.  The wound never healed right, leaving him with a limp (“gimpy).  His shooting was often dramatic with an almost grand flare for show (“shooting is a dangerous art”), yet he was a patient man, rarely in a hurry (“patience of Job”).

Dogs are by requirement of vocation are virgins avowed to remain celibate throughout their term of service.  Still, Purdy had a very close non-sexual relationship with Sara, the school marm.  “She smells like rain,” Purdy said of her.  “She calms me.”

Dogs in the Vineyard uses an interesting dice mechanic to resolve conflict.  Stolen from Wikipedia:

Character’s statistics and traits are represented by dice pools. At the start of a conflict, the Gamemaster and other players decide what is at stake, determine which pools are applicable, and those are rolled at that point. The character with the initiative puts forward a “raise” of two dice, while narrating a portion of the conflict which is beneficial to his character’s position in the conflict. The opponent must respond by putting forward one or more dice whose total exceeds the total of the dice which were used to raise, or “give” — i.e. lose the conflict. If three or more dice are needed, the opponent suffers “fallout” — a negative outcome to be determined at the end of the conflict. If only one die is needed by the opponent, the attack has been “turned against the attacker” and the die can be reused to raise in the next round. The opponent now begins a round by putting forward two dice which the first character must match, and so on until one player or the other gives. Players may bring in new dice by “escalating” the conflict, from non-physical (discussion) to physical (running away) to brawling and then to gunfighting. If the conflict didn’t start with non-physical, players may escalate from gunfighting to discussion, though it occurs only rarely. It should be noted that the GM’s set of rules in conflict is very simple: “Say yes, or roll dice.”

Unlike our Necessary Evil GM, Jake announced before we started playing that ours was the first Dogs session he’d run.  Even so, he did a very good job of engaging and leading us through the rules.  Jake did a fine job of meeting us in collaborative manner to build the adventure.

At the beginning of the game, Jake described our characters as men provided a gun and a Bible to handle situations that cannot be managed with either a gun or a Bible.  It is the challenge of sorting through the poor behavior of men and wrestling with rendering appropriate  judgement that I find so fascinating about the game.

I didn’t get to finish as I had to run to a panel, but my experience in the game told me what I needed to know.  I want to run Dogs at home.

Sadly, Dogs in the Vineyard was nowhere to be found for purchase at Gen Con.  Game author D. Vincent Baker wasn’t present at Gen Con and none of the other vendors were selling it either.  Speculation is that a new version of the book will be released soon.

ayaw
We didn't actually use these cards, but they sure are pretty.

We played a ton of Are You a Werewolf, which is a terrific party game.   Requiring at least eight players, cards are dealt to each participant who views it in secret.  The card reveals the player’s identity, secret or otherwise: A Villager, The Seer, or A Werewolf.

One person moderates the game, while all others play – unaware of the other players’ true identity.  The idea is that night falls and all players close their eyes. The Werewolves (2 of them per game) open their eyes, quietly single out which Villager will be dinner and close their eyes.  The Seer is then selected to open her eyes.  She identifies another player and silently queries if that person is a werewolf.  The moderator responds with a thumbs up “yes werewold” or thumbs down “not a werewolf.”  The Seer closes her eyes.

All players then open their eyes to find one of their number has been horribly mauled to death.  They then proceed to debate which one of them is the werewolf.  The Seer has to remain quiet as to her true identity because the werewolves will kill her in the next round if they know who she is.  One player is singled out for lynching.  When the player is killed, the card is turned over to reveal the identity.

“I’m not a werewolf!” Someone will cry out being selected for lynching.

“That sounds like werewolf talk to me!”

It’s bloody, paranoid chaos.  Wonderful fun.

The Wife and I host a lot of dinner parties through the year.  We will  be playing this one a lot.

bsg demoI got to sit in on a Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game demo.  That was a lot of fun.  The game is set prior to the colonial fleet settling  no New Caprica.  The goal is to get make the eight jumps necessary to get to New Caprica before The Cylons getcha.  Oh, and one of the players is a Cylon.  Dirty Cylons.  Since the game is set prior to New Caprica, Battlestar Pegasus is around – which is an expansion for the game.

From the site:

bsg demo2

Battlestar Galactica is a cooperative game, with the added complication that one or more of the players is a secret Cylon traitor – your entire side will win or lose, and you might not even be certain who is on your side until the game ends!

Each player is secretly assigned his or her loyalty at the start of the game. Players will either be loyal to the humans, or to the Cylons. Humans and Cylons have specific and conflicting winning objectives. The human players win by reaching Kobol, but the Galactica will be be threatened by a host of challenges along the way. Only through the cooperation of the humans will the ship (and fleet) survive. The Cylon player(s) wins by either destroying the Galactica with attacks from the Cylon fleet, or, through sabotage, by reducing one of the necessary resources (Food, Fuel, Population, or Morale) to zero.

Either all of the humans win together, or all of the Cylons win together…but both sides must figure out who they can trust in order to achieve victory.

Very complex rules system, tho.  Not recommended for those who don’t posess Risk-level endurance for game time.

My last game at the con was suite-mate James’ Savage Worlds zombie game.  Which was hysterically fun.  Note:  James and I first met at Fear the Con in 2008 where he played in my “…And a Little Child Shall Eat Them” game.   James’ character died in my game, turned into a zombie, and attacked his fellow players.  Turn-a-bout being fair play, it was James turn to run me through the zombie apocalypse (This post is getting long, so I will pick this game up in detail later).  Suffice it to say, we had a frikkin blast.  James is a terrific GM.

I really wanted to play Burning Wheel and/or Mouse Guard.  I did not have the opportunity to do either this time around.  But I’m thrilled with all the games I did play (even bad-gm-game, it supplied me with content after all).  I am so jazzed to play now.

Energized.

Stoked.

Back to work on my campaign.

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