I had one or two requests (or sad lamentations) that folks had missed my Fallout Shelter game on the Friday, and so on Saturday I started to see about setting up a second run. And so...
Fallout Shelter RPG: Take 2
I grabbed Soren and Andy (who played in my Star Frontiers game last year, discussed way way back), and then was able to poach Ian and Sarah, who I got to game with the prior year as well (in Jim Pinto's Carcass game). Their main concern was whether or not they needed to know any Fallout Shelter trivia. I approximate a need for 0% knowledge, so they were in.
The donut hadn't even really gotten moving, and that worked for us, as we were able to snake the really cool glass window room in the center of the main floor. Private for audio use, but flashy for showing off all the moving parts!
The big difference for this game was that my players wanted to hit lunch and the next game slot on time, and we only had a 3 hour slot for this session. That's pretty tight, as I've always run it in 4 hours plus, and that still feels abbreviated.
But we kept it moving fast, and tight. And I definitely ratcheted up the difficulty, and started really using those hard moves. I had a blast running this, and I just love how much everyone loved getting mangled. By the end we had a TPK, except for Sarah's character (the Wasteland Explorer) who survived the final fight long enough to hang out in the upper levels of the vault until she starved. Good times!
This solidified my belief that all my recent changes have enabled the game to be run more solidly, and that enabled a quicker and more satisfying play.
Protocol: Le Carnival
I had lunch with my Fallout Shelter crew, and Andy was planning to then run his Mad Max: Fury Road game (with large Lego war rig and miscellaneous vehicles included!) I was a bit fried from running my game, and needed a few more lunch minutes, and Jim was planning to run a Protocol game.
I hesitated. I did end up sending some satisfied players (including ET, who had to get to work) over to Andy, but played with Jim. We were joined in addition by his friend Nate. The first 5 minutes I was feeling regretful. And then the game got going, and I forgot about regret... it was that good.
Protocol games use a standard deck of cards as the randomizer, which informs all sorts of character traits and scenes, such as motivations, relationships, the types of scenes, and their locations.
We had a quick discussion over which, of the dozens of available scenarios and skins, we wanted to play. We decided on Le Carnival, described thusly:
Le Carnival is a story roleplaying game about the human oddities (freaks) of a carnival during the Great Depression era. The Carnival travels the backroads of the Midwest farm belt and the Southern states, visiting towns far off the beaten trail. Characters are carnival freaks who hopelessly seek a degree of familiarity, clinging to the idea that somehow the Carnival is family. In fact, the “Brotherhood” of the Carnival is based only on who earns the most for the ringmaster, creating a twisted sense of meritocracy. The only true currency: fleecing the clueless rubes in the uneducated reaches of America.
We had a "dwarf", a "strong man", "the human torso", the "tattooed lady", and a "contortionist". Needless to say, the game spiraled into darkness quickly, and I remember one of my first scenes as the "dwarf" was pushing the human torso Bob (played by Nate) in a little wagon, for a little journey from the safety of the back-lot of the circus over to where the normal people were. I basically used him as bait so that the mean teenagers wouldn't pursue me when I had to flee. It continued to be brutal from there.
I always have a hard time grokking scene concepts such as vignette and interlude (as Protocol defines them), but I think they are finally starting to sink in. Although even so I'll make sure to ask Jim over and over again next time, just to see his frustration.
And then there is Stras (which I finally learned how to pronounce correctly... as in Josh with a "Str" replacing the 'J'). I met him the prior year at Go Play, not through gaming, but through a 6 hour marathon conversation on the Monday morning after the con was over. We blabbed non-stop about gaming and have communicated lightly through the magic which is G+ ever since.
He had mentioned his plans to create Atlas Reckoning even back then... an RPG around giant fighting mecha, the last bastion of the human race, and big aliens. What's not to love?
Fortunately he grabbed me, and we had Sean, Ross, and Lucien? (please correct me if I've gotten that last name completely wrong!)
All I know is that everyone was super stoked to play, and Lucien (name pending) even went up to his room to change into a Battletech shirt in preparation!
This game was super solid. Half of it was insane mecha to mega-alien combat, facilitated as a card game, but combined with uber interesting battle-tech like game mechanics. And then the other half consisted of the beautiful prose that is emotionally heavy story gaming. It was straight-up watching an awesome anime.
Shit, check out the character sheets and mecha sheets!
One of the really interesting aspects was how Stras has baked into the game the concept of "sync", where a giant robot can only be piloted with 2 humans. Part of this process is a brain-meld, which causes information to spill forth from one person to another. There is even a bit of sync game which is performed when first getting ready to pilot the robot, which is in itself a little chunk of genius.
My only criticism of the game would be that it is a bit too meaty at first play, and I think some aspects are a little overwhelming. This isn't to say that Stras should chop that down, as it looks perfect for long-term campaign play! But, perhaps a paired-down version of the character sheets for con-game play would be more digestible?
8oz Burger - A Tradition
Last year as con end, a crew of us ended up at 8oz Burger, a short walk from the con. Andy decided to facilitate such a plan again, and we actually had a reservation this time! A large crew headed that way, and a large crew ate and blabbed.
The food is outstanding: burgers, brussel sprouts, etc. I just realized I forgot to order one of their excellent milk shakes, but shit that whisky was amazing. Can't complain.
But Wait... There's More! Murder Hoboes Part 2
You thought it was over... and you were so wrong.
Various good byes were said. We walked Jim to his car so he wouldn't get mugged, cause goddamn wouldn't you love to mug that guy? I pleaded with him to give me his Murder Hoboes test cards, and he conceded (as long as I also purchased another one of his products, King for a Day... always an excellent salesman!)
And lucky me! Back at the dorm lobby, about 10 folks were playing a random game. Everyone was looking tired, but again I felt the buzz. And I am so glad I was able to pitch and force a few arms and start this game...
I got Stras, Andy, Gavin, Dan, and Soren to join in a game of Forget-Me-Not: Murder Hoboes. Jerry and I just helped facilitate, and played one or two odd NPCs as the game went on (Jerry squawked like a bugbear once).
This was the hardest I laughed all con. Everyone cried of laughter at one point or another. It was truly an unreal experience. I would pay serious money to see comedy shows this funny.
After that... sleep.
And We Out...
Another Go Play NW comes to an end... Jerry and I go hit Cafe Presse for breakfast, running into another gamer group for some quick words. And then back to the dorm, some heartfelt goodbyes to him and Dan, and then a train ride to Seatac.
And so it ends, until next year...