Monday, April 14, 2008

Nerds On The Beach

This past weekend was the second Nerdly Beach Party, an RPG get-together inspired by the east coast's Camp Nerdly. For the second year in a row, roleplayers from northern and southern California camped out at San Simeon State Park, in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to game. This year's attendance grew from 14 to 22, and our organizing prowess grew to compensate. But I'm not here to talk about the event, I'm here to talk about what I played.

Friday evening I facilitated two simultaneous playtests of A Penny For My Thoughts. If I been thinking, I would have printed out the most recent draft to see if the "read it at the table" procedures work yet. Alas, I forgot, so I had to explain it. Fortunately, writing that chapter drilled into my head how to explain the game, so it was pretty easy. I floated between the two groups, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Saturday morning I convinced Josh Roby to start a campaign mode game of Sons of Liberty. Originally it looked there were only going to be three of us, so I figured we could get a couple of battles in, but a few more players turned out. Our Patriots were John Hancock (Albert Andersen), Paul Revere (myself), George Washington (John Kim), Sam "Ringo" Adams (Michael Parker), and Abigail "Yoko" Adams (Meghann Ahern), while Josh took up the Tory mantle. Sadly, the Beatles references mostly stopped after the travel hand. Highlight of the game: after converting freed clockwork slaves to Deism, we had to fight the Tory Robo-Theist. It was a big disorganized at first, but it turned into a lot of silly fun, as usual.

Saturday afternoon I finally got to try out Dirty Secrets, which I've been looking forward to since GenCon last year. Jesse Burneko declared that I would be the Investigator, and I was only to happy to oblige. We played the novella-length game (which was just about right) with a total of five players (which I think was perhaps one too many). I think novella is probably the sweet spot for this game, and I think it would absolutely sing with three players. In any case, it landed smack dab in the middle of what I want out of a collaborative mystery game. It was great fun working with Jesse, Laura, Morgan, and Colin to make sense out of what the game was giving us.

Saturday night I dipped my toe into a playtest of unWritten, but we were all so tired that we stopped after the first round. It's got a lot of potential, and it's already got two things going for it that will score points in my book. First, there's a mechanism to reward people for presenting obstacles that the other players find interesting enough to engage. Second, every scene, whether you engage the conflict mechanics or not, results in a mechanical change to the character and the setting. I'd like to try this again as the text gets polished a bit more.

Sunday I only got one game in, but it might have been the most satisfying single-session game I've played. Ryan, Jesse, Laura, and I busted out a game of In a Wicked Age, which I've been longing to play since Dreamation. We had pretty much a perfect confluence of gaming styles and personal knowledge, so we ended up playing to each other to great effect. There's a more detailed discussion of this game over on Ryan's LiveJournal, but the quick summary is that we all had wicked amounts of fun.

And that was the weekend. We're hoping to do it again in late September. If it's half as fun as this one, I'd gladly go again.


Blogger Seth Ben-Ezra said...

Hey, Paul! Glad to hear that you enjoyed Dirty Secrets!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

With Dirty Secrets, what did you think about the end game with the crime grid acting as story resolution mechanic?

8:07 PM  
Blogger Paul Tevis said...

I liked it. We made sure that everyone on the grid was a plausable suspect, which meant that there wasn't really anyone terribly nice in the game. For me, it removed the pressure of there needing to be "an answer" and let us focus on the business of playing out the interactions.

10:50 PM  

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