Story Games Glendale
So, there is a group up in the Pacific Northwest called Story Game Seattle. My little interactions with this group has mainly been around attending the Go Play NW convention, in Seattle, for the last two years. I know a few well-known game developers (in indie RPG game circles) are from around there or have played in that circle, including Ben Robbins (of Microscope fame). In fact, Ben appears to have a strong hand in much of the weekly games happening and general atmosphere up there. For a little information on what that "looks" like, see the Story Games Seattle FAQ.
I was considering starting something like this in my area, but ended up finding The Art of Story Through Gaming meetup here in LA, and that seemed to do the trick for this year. I've hosted some Indie RPG nights, where we explore both GM-based and GM-less games. However, the meetup itself seemed to have gone quite regarding maintenance, and that reduced my confidence that it'd be around for much longer.
And as I was considering starting up my own meetup, *KABOOM* I get a notification about a new meetup called "Story Games Glendale". Not only a story games meetup, not only based on some of the guidelines from the original Seattle version, but also happens to be in my little corner of this great big trafficy city!?
Turns out a fellow named David has been running games such as these for co-workers for months now, and happens to live and work in Glendale.
First meetup at Game Haus Cafe
Our first meetup was on Oct 4, at our local Game Haus Cafe in Glendale. We've looked into the possibilities of Game Empire (in Pasadena) and Emerald Knights (in Burbank) as possible venues as well, however these locations already have many game and table reservations already.
After meeting up David, Caleb, and Tracy, as well as introducing Harry from my past meetups, we pitched a few games, and ended up taking on Forget-Me-Not: Murder Hoboes (by postworldgames and Jim Pinto). This particular game isn't released yet, but Harry and I had already played the original Forget-Me-Not recently, so wanted something a little different.
I have to admit we probably didn't follow the game exactly by the rules, due to my knowledge of how to run it with 4 people, but not 5. We started with the number of players you'd expect for a 4-player game but we were playing with 4 characters in a scene (instead of 3, the correct number). This meant we were blowing through the character phrases faster than expected, and so later in the game I slowed this down. We took it down to 3 people per scene, with the odd-man-out being assigned an optional NPC role that didn't match any of the characters (a monster, the bartender, so on).
We had a good time. People appeared to mostly enjoy the free-form nature. We did a round of Roses and Thorns, and much of the negative feedback had to do with not getting to explore many characters deeply (which isn't the purpose of the game, really).
Harry has played a few GM-less games now where there is no attachment to a single character, and was curious if that is just a thing with GM-less games. My answer: not necessarily. Some GM-less games are based around exploring a community, or history, and so there is definitely less exploration of specific personalities, however there are some which do (such as Protocol or Praxis by Jim Pinto, or Kingdom by Ben Robins, or even Downfall by Caroline Hobbs). Perhaps I'll try getting one of these running soon.
The game was a little on the short side (~2 hours). But I suppose that's the advantage of being in a game cafe with 1,000 games on the shelves. So although Caleb had to go, and the rest of us played a round of Splendor, before heading out.