Our Kapcon 2016

Wellington RPG Con - Wellington Anniversary Weekend - www.kapcon.org.nz

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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby Sam » Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:53 pm

grrrlshapedthing wrote:1st round I played in Sam's Inns and Outlaws which was very different from what I expected but very very enjoyable... long live blonde curly pigtails bigger than my head! First time with this system and I've run off an bought it!
xyphoid wrote:Sunday 1: Ryuutama - the highlight of the weekend, I'm totally going to run this now. Weather dragons, smelly goats, and hiding bandit kings in chests of pillows.

So glad you enjoyed Ryuutama, it's such a good game. Easy to pick up and either crank up the cute, or dull it down depending on the group.

I was nervous as hell running this game, it's been a couple of years since I last GMed and I felt it. Both games ran differently but were equally loads of fun. Going to hone my GMing skills in time for next year.

Round 2 I took off, and relaxed, helped out shoehorning people into games - that is always such a tricky beast to get right.

Round 3 I played in Ocean run by Ciaran. This was the only game other than the flagship I played in and I had a ball. System was GMless and I found I had to start the game running to keep up with the others at the table. Seems this was the con to wing things.

Round 4. I played one of 'The Sisters'. Huge thanks to Mike who basically we had running all over for us as we 'offered' suggestions on how things should play out. The fun part of this was Rachael and I had been telling each other for the last three years that we'll costume together...and then we did. Two days work - thanks to Luke and Erik for child wrangling.

Round 5 I GMed. I was tired. I hope it didn't effect the game too much. However the things i wanted to fix from the first game I did so that's a positive. However mucked up others.

Round 6 - this was one that I was a little worried about. I tagged in for facilitating Adventure Squad. Huge thanks to Fraser for taking the hit with his 10 person game. So I was left with 6 eager squadies. It was a huge privilege to see Ayla run her Star Wars game. See her get excited over it - though as I was aware of energy levels I pushed her to complete the game in an hour.
With a break we gathered together for Sophie's Far Away Land game. I was worried about this one as she tends to go quiet, but she strongly GMed and with an additional player in Jonathon. So proud of our wee ones.

After this we went home and crashed. The girls buzzing over the weekend. Huge thank you to the Kapcon crew for recognising Sophie's achievement.
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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby housemonkey » Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:28 am

Before I talk about my own Kapcon experience I think there have been a couple of rather unfair comments about the Apotheosis LARP. I understand if people aren't interested in the Fae plotline in the slightest, when I first came on board for helping to write I wasn't entirely sold on it either. But we put a lot of effort into making a workable game without having to interact with them at all and making sure they didn't overwhelm the other stories we'd set up. To dismiss it as being about "fairies on the moon" is entirely inaccurate. Especially when you follow it up with talking about you were able to ignore them and deal with the things you were interested in. Rather proves we achieved what we set out to do, I'd say. And Kapcon LARPs, at least not the flagships hardly have a history of "surprise ha ha, its faeries again!" plot twists. In the last few years at least any supernatural elements have been pretty clearly marked and I don't recall any in which the Fae as we wrote them have featured prominently. If last year's Crisis Point, which I didn't play, had them I never heard about it.
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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby IdiotSavant » Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:02 am

housemonkey wrote:Before I talk about my own Kapcon experience I think there have been a couple of rather unfair comments about the Apotheosis LARP. I understand if people aren't interested in the Fae plotline in the slightest, when I first came on board for helping to write I wasn't entirely sold on it either. But we put a lot of effort into making a workable game without having to interact with them at all and making sure they didn't overwhelm the other stories we'd set up.

They overwhelmed stuff just by their presence. Not just in the obvious "what's going to be on the front page of the Dominion-Herald tomorrow morning" sense, or even in the "people being flayed in the middle of the room" sense (I didn't see any of that), but simply the fact that faeries are walking around talking about magic creates a fundamental and unavoidable challenge to your character's world view. And OOC, it creates an unavoidable genre-clash and forces a jarring shift of expectations during play. Suddenly I'm not playing near-future transhumanism, I'm playing near-future magic realism. Which wasn't what I signed up for, let alone prepped for.

The genre-clash would have been manageable if it was signalled more clearly in advance, but that would obviously have ruined the twist. So, I understand why you made that design choice, but the consequence was in-game genre-clash which undermined my experience. I worked around it as best I could, and still had fun, but it was a negative for me.

And OTGH, the game apparently worked for a lot of other people, and that's what matters. Every game has people it doesn't work for (I expect about 10% regardless of how great it is); I just got the short straw this time.
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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby housemonkey » Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:40 am

Well then maybe you could have said that first instead of misrepresenting our game to people who weren't there. And saying it was about fairies on the moon is exactly what that does. Seriously, do I also have to point out they weren't actually on the moon?
I also don't completely buy the idea it was a genre change, because when I wrote them my aim was to draw parallels with the path humanity was starting to follow and make them more alien and so far beyond advanced it appeared like magic, but if you chose to interpret it as straight up magic fairies (not on the moon) that's more about you than me. We also have no control over how other people choose to interpret the idea of Fae either. Additionally, who cares what's going to be on the front page of the papers? That just says you expect the game to be all about you. Just because your plots won't make the news doesn't make them less significant.
I'm also annoyed because you could have shared this with me in person on Sunday rather than making glib and inaccurate statements here.
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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby binder » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:16 am

Congrats to every one who ran and attended Kapcon this year. Unfortunately neither my family nor myself could be present (seeing as I was mostly lounging by a pool in the sun with alcoholic beverages... I mean away on family vacation), however in honour of the Con I did run a Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure for my boys. Much fun had by all.

A highlight was being able to introduce a friend of my eldest son, who is also away on holiday with us, to tabletop gaming. He obviously enjoyed himself as he already asking when we play again!

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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby Steve Hickey » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:01 pm

I agree with grrlshapedthing: Kapcon was wonderful this year--maybe the best experience I’ve had here in a long time. Every single person I played with contributed their best towards making our games awesome. And we played a few games I've been dreaming about / hoping to run for a long, long time (Home and Fall of Electricity, see below).

I facilitated the following games at Games on Demand / late-night Kapcon:
* Home: a mash-up of Grace, Silver and White and Okult
* Fall of Electricity
* Cartel
* Fall of Magic
* Heists / Master Thieves - a playtest of one of my games-in-progress
* Fall of Magic

And I played Monster of the Week in the final session.

Grace and Silver and White (S&W) are two of my favourite games. They're GMless explorations of what it's like to be a teenager. While Grace is naturalistic, S&W has an overt supernatural component to it. About a year ago, it occurred to me you could combine both games, and use them as the starting point for a Stephen King story in the style of IT.

For simplicity's sake, I decided you'd play out all of the childhood/teenage material first, and then leap forward to the adults returning to a darker version of their town. Probably with an ellipsis, so that you weren't quite sure what had happened in the interim.

After looking at When The Dark Has Gone as a possible third game to use for the 'we're grown up and coming back to the creepy town we grew up in’ section, I decided Okult was a better fit.

In play, the game was rushed: we all agreed that it'd be fantastic to spend one session on the childhood years, take a break and then return for the adult years. The challenge would be to convince con goers to sign up for two sessions of a game, when the social and creative rewards of Kapcon (to me) are about dabbling and exploring lots of different cool things.

But wow. Much pathos. So creepy. We were a group of kids who bonded over a school hike into the nearby national park. The early stages of the game were centred around reacting to one of the kid's being heavily involved in a bible study class and dealing with Trent (the new kid transferred from a nearby school) and his alienation and the way he lashed out and rebelled.

But Jarrod subtly (at first) described how Trent was looking paler and thinner. His revelation that he was terminally ill fed perfectly into the second phase of the game, where ordinary teenagers make contact with something supernatural.

This mash-up has inspired me by demonstrating how few rules you need in order to create a satisfying play experience. If the character creation process gives people meaty things to talk about, disagree with and change opinions on, then normal everyday scenes can be filled with lots of great material. (In fact, S&W is quite crunchy in comparison to Grace, and having to explain its rules felt a bit too much of a gear change.)

Fall of Electricity
One of the things I love about Kapcon and the Games on Demand room is that you will nearly always find the right players for a particular game. So, this is how I pitch Fall of Electricity (FoE) now:

You play a post-grunge band who have heard rumours that a second version of Seattle has appeared somewhere in America. And you set off on a road-trip to find it. You play the band’s guitarist and drummer. And the guitar and the drums.

This game uses Fall of Magic's (see below) map-based scene prompts to structure its story. As a group you travel between different areas on the map. Each area has locations that contain prompts like "What you see in the clouds" and "The throne room" and "Alternate impending Copenhagen". Each player takes turns visiting locations within an area, narrating a scene (that can involve the other characters), and incorporating the required scene prompt.

(What I like about the scene prompts in both Fall of Magic (FoM) and FoE is that they can be interpreted in a number of different ways, making it easy to revisit and reuse them).

FoE has a bit more overt flexibility that FoM in how you go through the journey, with its layout encouraging you to consider visiting locations again.

FoE impressed me right from its incredible first phase, where we establish relationships between the musicians and instruments.
It turned out we had a generation gap between our drums and guitar. The drums were new and excited to rock. The guitar was older: it'd belonged to Andrew’s grandfather, who’d also been in an alt band in the 60s and 70s. The guitar was cautious about whether Andrew could live up to the grandfather’s legacy but also incredibly encouraging and continually supportive, even in the most trying of circustances or when dealing with Andrew’s frequent self-doubts.

Our story brought in the idea of a war between two different musical preferences, a lot of polyamory, and an opportunity to have a cathartic moment with David Bowie. When we were writing songs or playing gigs, we also visited scene prompts inside an area repeatedly, to build up the tension inside a sequence of whether we'd fail or not.

Fall of Magic
I played two games of Fall of Magic, a game in which you play the companions of the Magus, who is dying and travelling to the land of Umbra, to the source of magic.

Character creation is elegant. Each word you choose (from a perfectly-considered list) to construct your character inspires you to create a character arc and give you attitudes about particular areas on the map.

I love FoM's slow build. The game starts with reflective and introductory scenes that don’t necessarily bring the characters together. It then moves onto areas that contain scene prompts that facilitate the characters observing each other (without compelling it). After that, it starts to give concrete opportunities to develop sub-plots. As part of that, I love the slow pace at which character relationships can be built, and the way sub-plots can be introduced and reflected on before being developed.

In our first game, a midwife was a central character, and the game (in hindsight) was about midwiving the Magus into the magic and midwiving his apprentice into a new position as a magus. One aspect that emerged from the game (that I loved) was how we started dismantling the 'power acquisition' trope of fantasy fiction: through the game we acquired artifacts and power, but the resolution seemed to pivot on us giving up those crutches and relying on ourselves and each other.

The second game was powerful powerful stuff. As players, I felt we started (as FoM games often seem to) with some scepticism, some hesistation, some slowness about establishing characters and plot. But those inital scenes are great at 'tuning' the group: helping us develop a shared understanding of the tone we're aiming for. In this case, we gradually realised we wanted a fully melancholic tone and we played into that, hard. By about halfway through the game, we were starting to tear up occasionally. By the game's end, we were struggling to hold back our tears.

I learned a lot from both games.

There’s a powerful ability for players to tell a parallel story about the Magus through their ‘between locations’ narration. Because responsibility for that narration swaps around all the time, you get to understand different aspects of the Magus.

My narrations in Game 2 were all about the arrogance of humans welcoming the fall of magic and the return of the rule of the sword, but also - increasingly - about the frailness of the Magus’ body and the ways in which it had begun to fail. And eventually that transitioned into a meditation about accepting death, bringing the literal subject matter of the game through metaphor and back into literality again, but this time with a massive emotional weight.

I also felt (and resisted) the temptation to steal imagery or ideas from previous games I’ve played. In this creative context, it feels like cheating. And it's easy to resist, because a key part of playing the game involves respecting the creativity of others: building on their ideas, supporting them, and creating our own mood.

I almost feel like the attraction for future games of Fall of Magic for me is ‘exploration’. Playing through other areas of the map that I haven’t been to before.

There’s also some thoughts I need to develop about the different types of voice you can use in your narration: first person observational monologues, inner monologues about a character's emotional life, conventional GM narration, setting a scene for a conventional in-character conversation, and inverting/subverting the story prompts: giving them double-meanings or using them as metaphors.

This was the game I was most confident about running at Kapcon, but was the most disappointed in myself for how I facilitated it. I think I learned a lot about how I want to run it in a con environment.

* I think the strongest way to run that game in a one shot is to have everyone involved in the family
* I'd definitely not offer the option of players doubling up on playbooks in a small (4 player) game
* I'd like to open with a family- centric scene, bringing everyone together
* I'd consider not offering the ‘dirty cop’ playbook at a con (to make it easier to tie everyone together into regular scene). The Dirty Cop is great for an extended game, though.

(I also think the final version of Cartel will benefit from lots of advice about how to put pressure on the dirty cop. Advice I may have to write :)

Our Kapcon session centred around a weak, new and young narco taking over as cartel boss from his dead father. At the same time, a young and ambitious cousin was working his way up from the street corner. If we’d played another session, I'm certain the cousin would have been challenging the boss for control of their operations.

The crux of the boss-cousin relationship came from the terrible decision of one of the cousin's buddies to get involved in ripping off a drug shipment and making it look like a rival cartel had done it. It compromised the cousin, forced him to kill his friend, and led to a shoot-out in the suburbs while trying to regain the drugs.

The other two characters were dirty cops. One was involved in a scam to sell black market weapons. The other was having to work with the US Military Police, to track and recover stolen black market weapons. The second cop was also being more and more suspected of being involved in the cartel.

It was an extremely complicated storyline. I was happy about running it and inventing internally consistent details about what was happening, but I don’t think it was as entertaining session for the other players as it could be.

Conclusion: Steve must do better.

Heists / Master Thieves
This is my game-in-playtest, inspired by Ocean's 11 and shows like Leverage and Hustle. I was nervous about offering it, so it was great to have Dan encourage me to run: I really appreciated that extra push.

I ran a new heist during this session (the first one I’ve designed): trying to rob the time-locked vault of a mob bank (similar to the bank in the opening sequence of The Dark Knight). Instantly, the thieves threw me completely: they decided not to rob the bank, but to adjust the bank's security procedures so that when an alert was raised, the bank would transfer money ... effectively robbing itself.

I decided to go with it - I was sure the rules could handle it. A fun session resulted, complete with a mini-heist in the middle of the game and a courier-bicycle assisted assassination attempt. Rather than overcoming challenges, the theives subverted and defused them - so that at the end the theives could essentially press ‘Go’ on their plan and it all worked perfectly.

I got lots of feedback and have been analysing the results. In particular, the rules need to support the thieves being more competent and there need to be clearer rules for what a roll will achieve.

There’s still a lot of work left to do but I’m feeling confident about taking it for another spin soon. I'm guessing that the cause of that confidence is being able to address some specific issues thereby feeling more confident that the game will be better on its next run.

Monster of the Week (MOTW)
I have only played this a few times (I think this was my third). It’s so much fun.

As the final session at Kapcon, it had to deal with all of us being wired on adrenaline and making jokes with each other. But we had all played MOTW before, so character creation went as fast as I’ve ever seen it, and we had a strong idea of how to run a hunt.

What it required was for us to gradually pull ourselves into the fiction space as opposed to joking around. I was one of the players who took the lead on that, framing a scene with my Mundane friend in a car just to check in with them about how they were feeling about monster hunting.

Then I stated what I was going to do as my initial bit of research: reading the local newspaper reports. That spun out into a whole sequence, which included our commander trying to impersonate a CIA agent in order to get police files (“Sir, the CIA doesn’t operate inside America, and you’ve misspelled ‘CIA’ on your badge.”)

From that, we realised we needed to impersonate FBI agents and needed an FBI code book. The Expert rolled a 7-9 on his move to have access to something rare or unusual. The codebook wasn’t with him: he'd left behind at a previous town.

This led to my favourite part of the game: I pitched that it’d been left behind at the house of a woman the Expert had hooked up with but then abandoned. I’ve always been fascinated about what it would be like if Sam or Dean went back to a town where they’d had a fling (the Evil Truck town of Route 666, for instance) and had to deal with the emotional blowback.

Turns out it’s a fun obstacle that humanises a lot of characters.

I was a Wronged with an obsessive focus on troll-hunting (based on the Monstrous’ breed selection). I took my backstory from the Thomas Jane Punisher movie: trolls had murdered all of my family and friends at a huge wedding. Our final fight against snow-trolls was brutal and probably the best implementation of the Kick Ass move that I’ve seen: lots of trading harm, and some attempts to be smart about how to hurt the trolls without being hurt ourselves.
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Re: Our Kapcon 2016

Postby Catnip » Sun Jan 31, 2016 1:47 am

My Kapcon:

Round 1: The Terror of London (Monster of the Week)
A solid Monster of the Week scenario. I can't say too much about it without giving away spoilers.

Round 2: Heroes of Halcyon City (Masks)
This was my first time of playing masks. There's a lot of neat things about the system that really emphasise the teen-angst aspect (for example, damage is emotional rather than physical - you can come out of a fight feeling guilty, angry and insecure and then have to do something appropriately dumb to make yourself feel better). This is one game I would have liked to see as a campaign to see the various bits of the character's backgrounds played out over time.

Round 3: On Display (LARP)
On Display is a 6-player (plus 1 NPC) LARP from Paracelsus Games. I was impressed on my first read of this that the authors had managed to make an engaging LARP (with minimal GM input) that worked with such a small number of players. In this session we lost a player at the last minute. Fortunately the game still worked with the 5 characters left, but there would have been more options for all the other characters if we'd been playing with a full cast.

Round 4: Apotheosis (Flagship LARP)
Apotheosis was set in 2056, in a New Zealand that had become a centre of scientific innovation. I was playing Blair Saunders, CEO of Biocom. Naturally as a large corporation we were involved in some dodgy stuff, however we were probably one of the least dodgy groups there (although I have to admit that I didn't find any evidence that Delightfully Designed were doing anything worse than making My Little Ponies). The game had some amazing sets and props so it was obvious why Norm had been up until 2am the night before.

Round 5: Cabal of the Broken God (Cortex Plus)
This was my only non-world, non-LARP game of the Con. The premise was simple enough - we were a group of uber powerful mages out to steal some stones of immortality from an elven temple. Dillon had created a really interesting selection of wizard concepts. I selected the "resurrected wizard" concept (and kicked myself slightly when the next concept offered was "Crazy cat wizard"). I think the Cortex system is one that you need to play with a bit before you can actually play your character effectively (in a mechanical sense). However, the bickering and backstabbing wizards aspect was a great deal of fun. The game ended with about half the party being literally carried off to Hell in a sack.

Round 6: We Be Monsters
We Be Monsters is Dungeon World from the monster's perspective. Our party ended up being something of a managerie with a bugbear, a goblin/werespider, a lizardman, a ratkin and a minotaur. We were about as successful as you'd expect, not helped by half the party getting high on dodgy mushrooms early on. Special thanks to Amphigori who risked her voice by doing an awesome high-pitched goblin/imp voice.

Round 7: On Display (LARP)
For the second run of On Display we ran with a full cast. This meant there was more time spent wheeling and dealing (and debating questions of science) and the game could have gone for longer than the allotted 90 minutes. However, the end was a lot less peaceful with rebellion and civil war the likely outcome.
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