Go Play NW 2016: Saturday

A Post World Games Day

After a lovely breakfast at Seattle U dining hall (included with the dorm stay), it was off to see the Donut, that little circle of lovely people getting games going. This is something that happens regularly at Go Play NW, where a facilitator gets players and game masters together for gaming action.

 A donut!

A donut!

But as has happened in the past, Jerry and I were waylaid by one Jim Pinto, the designer behind Post World Games of various ilk, including some of my favorites: George's Children, Dying Memories, Carcass, and Forget-Me-Not. He also formalized a game system known as Protocol, a very rules-light / narrative-heavy system with dozens of thematic playbooks.

At GoPlayNW 2015, we played one of these Protocol games known as Ship Lanterns, "a story roleplaying game about wish-fulfillment gone awry and set in a Southeast Asian village". It was one of my most memorable games of that con.

I was not disappointed in what was to come...

Forget-Me-Not: Murder Hoboes

The original Forget-Me-Not is one of my favorite games. Easy to play, easy to run, easy to learn. You get a narrative not unlike Twin Peaks, and always riotous laughter. Jim recently Kickstarted Forget-Me-Not: Florida, a Florida-man-esque version. But he also had an untested play-test version of a fantasy skin: Murder Hoboes.

The premise is that we share playing a set of 8 fantasy (trope) heroes, having a difficult time getting any of our quests done, including the dastardly Dungeon of Doom.

It was so good. So many laughter tears were flowing. I've told him before, I think this system is so simple and elegant, and I think this is the skin that most RP gamers would just understand. It wasn't until Sunday night, though, that I'd see just how true that was.

Heaven's Collapse

Jim then brought out a game he designed that places the players as those in the royal court during an event not unlike the Rape of Nanking, a very unpleasant event (of many) in our human history.

We start by each drawing two character cards: a princess, a general, an arms dealer, captain of the city guard, a royal bodyguard, a doctor, a seer, and so on. Each has some simple arrows which you can align to create bonds with the neighboring characters and players. Simple and elegant character bond mechanic! There is one main character in the narrative which is not played by any player, and that is only the most powerful one: The Queen.

After some initial setup scenes, any further events that occur are drawn from a card deck randomly. As the active player, you frame the scene, and which characters play in it; this does not have to include oneself.

After each scene, there is a short interlude scene that involves two players, and which adds a really interesting flavor to the overall narrative.

And then more scenes and interludes, until certain events get triggered (the queen becomes ill, or someone is arrested, etc.). 

We were all a bit impressed with just how perfectly the events seemed to play out. It felt like there was nothing random about it, as if they were chosen to tell a very precise and meaningful narrative. I'd be very interested to hear if it was just luck, or amazing design on Jim's part (I'm sure he'd prefer it be the latter!)

Note that although the game is set in a fantasy world, with odd names to protect any particular real-world country or participants, the events that are used are all very real-world scenarios that have occurred during that tragic time in our history.

Dark? Yes, indeed. But not just a meaningful and excellent game; a very well-thought out system.

 Interesting ways to create bonds... character cards in the foreground, and events just above.

Interesting ways to create bonds... character cards in the foreground, and events just above.

Praxis: Black Monk

Jim, ever working on more, has created a new game system he currently calls Praxis. This game was a playtest for one Praxis scenario, known as Black Monk.

Jim made sure we were aware that this would be a bit of a strange narrative. Given that the world was in a place where time had little meaning, death almost none at all, and the sun hadn't set in who-knows-how-long, it already started to promise oddities. Characters included the Prisoner, the outsider, and what I played: The Mule Skinner. And each character sheet had strange, leading questions that you answered, which again played into the theme.

"Odd" is an understatement. The game was very, very weird, but again, interesting and simple narrative mechanics, and some "win" type mechanics that reminded me of playing George's Children and Dying Memories. 

Dinner

Dinner is not included except for Friday. Jim, Jerry, Derek and myself (who played all the prior listed games) went off to Barrio Mexican Kitchen and Bar, a short jaunt. So good. The Habanero salsa was killer. The variety of tacos grand. The drinks excellent.

All I'm going to say about this is that Jim was incredulously exclaiming about how ridiculous it was to schedule a few hours for dinner... "aren't we all here to game!?" But ours lasted about 3 hours and that was mostly his doing. No regrets, though. 

 Myself, Jerry, and Derek. Jim is represented by his hand and spoon... I am sensitive to his irrational need to not be photographed. You're welcome, Jim.

Myself, Jerry, and Derek. Jim is represented by his hand and spoon... I am sensitive to his irrational need to not be photographed. You're welcome, Jim.

Fall of Magic

Dinner over... the four of us start on a game of Fall of Magic. This may be one of the only times I've played a game with Jim that wasn't one of his! (OK, we did play half a game of Fiasco, once.)

I love this game. We did get some good fun in there, with Jim and Jerry playing the old guard, and Derek and I the young pups on the quest... but Derek had to bailed out about an hour in. Then Jerry and Jim were falling asleep at the wheel. We got a bit of fun, but then it was time to call it quits and let these two go find a bed.

Late night hangout

As folks were later retiring, I was still a-buzz, and ran into some friends in the lobby, including Dan, Andi, and some friends I was yet to make, like Gary and Nate. They invited me along, and we went to go grab some drinks, and wax nerdy.

It was cold, I was in a T-shirt, and Cafe Presse (where we ended up) had no indoor seating for us. But luckily I reduced my surface area, and was able to comfortably survive as we all rambled like excited school kids, with interspersed moments like pleasant sighs. As the bar was closing, we retired to one of the dorm community rooms, and there met a few more, and rambled further. This type of ad hoc chilling is one of my favorite things about the con.

And then off to sleep for 4 hours until the next round of gaming...