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17 July 2006 @ 15:37
DexCon - without the c*ck  
Like Dreamation, I found DexCon a great place to hang out and game. There's always a bunch of small press game designers and players, and the con organisers do a really great job of making the indie crowd welcome. For my money, they go above and beyond. Incidentally, I think this is very sound business sense: just as it is meet and right for them to look after the RPGA crowd, the indie scene is an expanding, popular (some would say fanatically popular) gaming ethos, and no other con in my limited experience affords the indies as much space and time as the Double Exposure folks. Kudos to them, anyway. I do have some thoughts about some of the points lost in the bile of Jared's post on the Forge, but they're for another time, I think.

As Judd's said before me, DexCon is an awesome con to grow acquaintances into friends, make new friends, try out new games, play Jungle Speed, and hang out with folks. Amongst the memorable folk I hung out with again, or met for the first time: Steve-the-awesome-gamer, Chris the spook, Brett Gillan, Fred Hicks, Bob, Shawn, Rob Donoghue, Andrew Morris, Kristina Evanouskas (I think - damn the stoopid DexCon badge puzzle), Bill White and the Ganakagok ganakagang, Kevin Allen, RobNJ, Judd, Tony LB, Michael and Kat, Michele, Nathan Cockpunch, Jared, Jennifer Rogers and her boytoy... oh, a whole host of fun and cool people. Lots of good out-hanging.

I played (not necessarily in order):
  • Carry - a game about war by Nathan Paoletta, due for GenCon, preordering now at IPR.
  • Mortal Coil, by Brennan Taylor, out now!
  • Burning Empires, by Luke Crane, available at GenCon.
  • Ganakagok, by Bill White, currently available at Lulu
  • Donjon, by Clinton R. Nixon, also at Lulu, which I ran twice.
  • Plunder!, from Laughing Pan productions, which is not an RPG at all, but is a cool pirate card/resource game.
  • Jungle Speed, of course.
(I feel like I'm missing one, but I can't put my finger on it. Weird.)

I'll wait for their respective GMs to post AP before I really dig into the play, but as a quick run-down:

Carry - a game about war
I confess: I was expecting not to enjoy this very much; I don't share the communal American deal with 'Nam, and I was worried that would break it for me. It didn't. The game ended up being surprisingly affecting, and was good, so I pre-ordered it.

Mortal Coil
This was going to be a "bleak and disturbing" game, and we hit that mark pretty squarely. Bret was making some interesting observations about the introduction of sexuality to games w.r.t. the Capes: Sin City game he played in: adding a dose of honest-to-goodness sexuality scares people. It certainly did with this game. Anyway, it was a very satisfying game, and although I would have liked a few more scenes to wrap up, I was delighted with many of the paths it travelled.

This was really fun. It's a great game for telling a kind of Inuit saga of renewal or tragedy or transformation - or whatever comes out of play. The dice mechanic is quite neat, but it's the tarot-like deck that makes it so cool. The wonderful effect of having cards come up that exactly match the current scene, or that inform and drive it in totally unexpected directions is great. I also was very happy that the way the mechanics seem to work, it's possible to give the land and the people and the player characters happy endings, but it's very unlikely that you can achieve a happy end for everyone. We saved the People, but Ganakagok (the ice island) was destroyed and fell into the ocean, taking Pataiaq the ancient oracle (me!) with it. The game has a really satisfying mythic quality to it. I bought it after the game. Also, the players were really good: Bret (who was my grandson), Andrew, Kristina, Bob, Dave, Mel and Bill were a joy to game with.

Burning Empires: Fire over Omac
It was hella good to play Jack "the Spiv" Sipovitz again, with his trusty Kerrn sidekick, Shvi. It's no secret that I'm deeply enamoured of Burning Empires; all the more so, now that I've seen one of the advance copies and massaged my drool into its loveliness. Jack took something of a back seat in this manouever, while I helped a little with rules stuff, and tried to encourage the other players to put the beat-down on Luke. Which we did more of in-scene than in the manouever roll (because Luke is a cheater). Anyway, I gots my nukes, and we got in a good Firefight and DoW, and I was very happy.

Donjon x2
First one good, second one mediocre... some thoughts on why, and how I will make the potential Thursday game work better are likely to appear in an AP at the Forge.

This is a neat little card game, where you use cards to make a map of the carribean as you sail around plundering ships, making enemies of warring nations, obtain letters of marque, and generally act all piratical. It helped greatly that I totally pwned the hamster prophet by getting his crew to mutiny just as he was about to win, and then winning before his turn came back around. Sa-weeeeet! I bought the game after the demo, and when I finish this, I'm gonna go play it with the cat - I think I will win.

Character Tally
This is what happened to "my guys":
- crushed the pitiful pinnaces of phredd and the hamster prophet
- bought some expensive nukes and helped wrest control of a space elevator.
- died alone on the floor of a hut in the jungle, abandoned by his unit, suffering horribly from opiate withdrawal.
- manipulated a heartbroken girl into marrying his granddaughter, helped save the people, and died alone.
- exchanged fraternal love for his sister for a hatred of the insurrection to which he had recently belonged, and became the enemy as a result

The proof of Dictionary of Mu that Judd had with him was gorgeous. Really pretty. If I had known Judd was taking pre-orders, I would have dropped the moolah instantly - it seems, by the by, to be a pretty smart way to defray printing costs. I didn't get to play it, but wanted to.
The advance copy of Burning Empires is unspeakably wonderful. I can't wait to sell it to the masses.
Michael wrote nice things in my copy of With Great Power..., which I didn't get to play, alas, but wanted to.
The indie round-table was OK - some entertaining thought experiments and designs-in-progress.
Jennifer Rogers is cool, and her art is awesome. I hope a lot of people scrape up the cash to afford her wonderful stuff for their games. Her husband's OK, too - and they make dee-lishuss veggie biryani.
With Great Chili, the Indie Game party was a hit, as usual. They design games, they cook food - who know the indie crowd were so versatile.
I'm pissed I didn't get to play Capes, as I had intended. Next time, I will book myself into a game.
The video game tournaments are bizarre and compelling - I watched a bunch of the Soul Caliber tournament (and fondly remembered Seung Mina (?sp) and her wonderful lightning-vagina handstand recharge move). It was so heartstring-tugging to see one young kid lose a couple of times and be struggling so hard to be a big boy and not cry or tantrum, and succeeding manfully. I really wanted to say "Look, kid, it's OK. In a couple of years, you'll discover girls - or boys - and it won't seem quite so important, then", but I didn't.
I don't really like sharing small beds with people-who-aren't-Andrew.
I brought Nine Worlds, Conspiracy of Shadows: Blood Opera, and Donjon for pick-ups, but only ran Donjon. Next time, I'll register as a GM, I think.
Mayuran and I didn't kill eachother, probably because the only game we were in together was Donjon, and I was in charge of fucking that up.
DexCon and Dreamation are ridiculously easy to get to from Manhattan - forty-five minutes from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which rocked. Pretty cheap, too.
I didn't get to play Dictionary of Mu, but I will, I will, when I have it all to myself, I bind it and punish it.
The badge puzzle was aggravating - it messed up people's names (I was Alexander Nebman) for some reason, which makes remembering them much harder. Cost/benefit firmly in the high cost, low benefit there.
I wanted to see if I could pick up a bunch of d20s to play Donjon with, but none of the dealers' prices could compare to the bulk dice at dicepool.com. Now, all I need is someone with a frickin' visa that works on their site to order'em for me. Grrr. [i.e., I just have to wait until Andrew gets home].
I'm glad I met Bret - I've seen him post in Judd's threads a lot, and have wanted to meet him for a while (also, he said nice things about me on his LJ - awwwww!), so it was good to hang out, and get some good game on with the man.
We often think we're spoiled for choice in NYC with the nerds and the BW crew, and a whole host of good games and gamers, but there are a lot of other great players out there: Steve-the-great-gamer, Bret, Chris the spook... the list goes on. DexCon gives the lie to any notion of convention play being littered with fools.
(Anonymous) on 17th July 2006 22:29 (UTC)
Dude. I owe you a cockpunch for how you robbed me of sweet, sweet victory in Plunder. Next time...

Seriously though, we played in what...four non-you-cheating games together? It was pretty awesome. I'm glad Carry worked for you.

I'm gonna have to see if I can get out to NYC for some Nerd-related activities.

-Nathan "Cockpunch" P.
Iskanderyoungiskander on 17th July 2006 22:41 (UTC)
You should totally come down for a nerdNYC / GGG one-shot evening, or for a Recess, the quarterly-ish nerdNYC minicon.
Robert Donoghuerob_donoghue on 18th July 2006 01:29 (UTC)
You and Nathan independantly spoke with sufficient enthusiasm regarding Plunder that, despite not gettign a chance to try it (and despite it's apparent lack of cock), I broke down and picked it up. I look forward to finding out if I've been TRICKED.
Iskanderyoungiskander on 18th July 2006 01:33 (UTC)
Tricked? Never. Plundered!

(Anonymous) on 18th July 2006 07:54 (UTC)
Holy crap! You spelled Krista's name right, which most people can't do without the letter-switching-out-thingy. That's a heck of an achievement.

You were awesome in Ganakagok, BTW. I totally want you to play in at least one of Unistat games at Dreamation.

Just a guess here, but was Steve-the-awesome-gamer Steve McFadden, by any chance? Swarthy guy, scruffy face, light eyes, New Yawk accent?

-Andrew Morris
Iskanderyoungiskander on 18th July 2006 13:21 (UTC)
Sounds right about Steve! Soul patch, mediterranean complexion, fierce intensity. He rocks.

I forgot to ask - and you guys had to rush off - if Krista's was a Greek name... I spent a lot of time in Greece, growing up, so I guess the syllable patterns are familiar.

I'm there at Dreamation; like (I think) I said, I'm gonna register as a GM next time and run some stuff, rather than busk it with pick-ups.
(Anonymous) on 18th July 2006 18:35 (UTC)
Yep, that's the guy. How weird is it that I immediately knew Steve-the-awesome-gamer = Steve McFadden? He's actually an old friend who I hadn't hung out with in years, then a week before DexCon he called me up and said he noticed I was GMing a few of the games he signed up for. Wild. On a pro-indie note, he's been out of gaming after burning out on it a while back. It's the new indie stuff that convinced him to come to the con.

Krista's name is, I believe, Lithuanian. As far as I'm aware, there's no Greek at all in her ancestry.

-Andrew Morris (who really should get around to creating an account instead of always posting as anonymous)
Robert Donoghuerob_donoghue on 18th July 2006 18:45 (UTC)
Steve is so very much filed in my (and Fred's) mind as "That Awesome Guy"
Andrew Morrisplague_monkey on 19th July 2006 00:04 (UTC)
Yeah, he's pretty awesome. Half of my cool gaming moments involve him in some way. When Nick and I were running The Great Art LARP and everyone was playing nice, Nick turned to me and said, "We need a McFadden to spice things up."

-Andrew Morris
The Knight in Shining Skull T-shirtgillan on 18th July 2006 13:00 (UTC)
The funny thing for me was that I somehow didn't meet you at all at Dreamation. I was aware of your existence through your Forge posts, and when I got back and was reading your threads about attending it I was like, "How the Hell did I miss him?" I think you were the only person I didn't meet.

But yeah, it was good meeting you too.
Avonellegm_avie on 18th July 2006 17:39 (UTC)
There's always a bunch of small press game designers and players, and the con organisers do a really great job of making the indie crowd welcome.

Every table of indie material I saw running seemed to be having a blast, and I'm just boggled by all the LJ names I can't connect with faces. Must remedy this! :-) We love having you guys - the enthusiasm that rolls in the door with you is absolutely contagious.
robnj on 18th July 2006 21:03 (UTC)

In the past I'd just talked to you a couple of times, and played that one MLWM game, this time I got to have nice long conversations as well as 2 pickup games--one abortive. You are a very cool person, and I'm glad to have met you, and I look forward to hanging out at Dreamation.
Iskanderyoungiskander on 19th July 2006 11:50 (UTC)
Likewise! Skumpig Hole was a fun dude. :)