JiffyCon and other awesomeness

23 06 2008

JiffyCon Greenfield was this weekend! It was so great. Things got kicked off here at the farm on friday night, when our house was invaded by a ton of cool people. We ate nachos and drank iced tea and watched our favorite movie fight scenes, and a good time was had by all.

The Saturday sessions were great– I played Brennan Taylor’s awesome game called “How We Came to Live Here.” It’s set in a flavor I’ve never really had the taste for, but the structure of the game made it such that I’d love to play it again, and I was actually really drawn in by the color. (Although that night at Meg’s, I talked to him briefly about how great it would be to play a game of it with some Celtic color, because it’d work really well. Shreyas threw up a little in his mouth at the suggestion, but whatever.) I ended up winning a copy of Caper! for the JiffyCon superlatives contest– “Best character name: She Births The Dead.” (My character was known for having stillborn children.)

In the afternoon, Meg, Don Corcoran, and Nathan all joined Shreyas and I for a game of It’s Complicated. Nathan said it best: “Worst. Moon Festival. Ever.” It was a ridiculous game about virgins and unicorns that was a cross between Shakespearean comedy and porn. It went really well though, and I learned that although you might only be able to get through a round of play a session online, you can get through an entire gameboard in 2-3 hours in person. I really enjoyed it, and everyone has expressed a desire to play it again sometime, which makes me really happy.

On Sunday, we playstormed my new game Homecoming: One Soldier’s Story. The premise is something I came up with when Shreyas and I were driving to visit my family in Ohio, since my nephew just got back from a year and a half of bouncing between Iraq and Afghanistan. Meg, Emily, and Nathan were my playstormers, and holy crap, those Imagination Sweatshop people know what they’re doing. I’ve got more than enough material for a first draft, and thanks to Nathan, a super-hot conflict resolution/resource management system I’m really excited about.

It was so great seeing every single one of my favorite people! I wish every day were JiffyCon.

Oh right! I said “Other Awesomeness.” It looks as though I’m going to be doing some photography for one of the versions of Nathan’s amazing game Annalise, which is way exciting! I’m also doing the art and cover for Emily Care Boss’ highly-anticipated, much-beloved Under My Skin. Yay for projects!





Belatedly Jiffy

13 03 2008

So last weekend, Shreyas and I headed to Boston for some great gaming and great friend-time at JiffyCon. It was a fantastic time, and I got to see a lot of my favorite people and play two of my now favorite games!

Annalise, by Nathan Paoletta: I hate horror games for two reasons– I’m easily scared, and horror games either are scary or stupid. I don’t like cheesy suspense or ridiculous tropes, and I don’t want to be up all night freaking out or have nightmares. I’d heard excellent things about Annalise, including stuff about the “secret” mechanic which I thought might be a great jumping-off point for an issue we’ve been having over at Two Scooters with Thousand-Leaved Grass, so I decided I’d risk being scared silly or bored sleepy and sign up for the playtest. The system sounded cool, and I figured even if the game wasn’t my thing, I’d get to see something interesting in action.

The game was an obscene amount of fun. Obscene.

Annalise isn’t just a vampire game; it’s hard to describe what it is. It’s a puzzle, it’s dark and lovely but not sad or spooky: it’s suspenseful without nailbiting, introspective and badass at the same time. There’s a surprising amount of revelatory moments for a GMless game; you never know what’s going to happen, or how things will turn out. It was one of the finest play experiences I’ve had in a long time, and I want to play again soon, and badly.

Mist-Robed Gate, by Shreyas Sampat: You might claim that I am biased when it comes to this game, since its origins are rooted in me tugging on Shreyas’ sleeve and saying “Could you write me an Exalted game without all the suck and superpowers? You know, something sad and wuxia based, all tears and kung fu?” And you’d be right. But as anyone who was at JiffyCon (or anywhere in Central Square, I think) can attest due to the insanely loud, boisterous playtest, any bias I have is totally irrelevant in the face of the awesomeness that is this game.

What is there to say? There’s a knife-passing ritual with an actual knife that is one of the most viscerally affecting experiences I’ve had in a roleplaying game. The game generation system creates stories which are complex and nuanced and still familiar somehow. The color is astonishing. The game needs a combat system, but other than that, it was essentially completely finished out-of-the-box, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a first playtest. That was the single best playtest I’ve ever experienced, and one of the best game sessions of my life, period. I want a weekly game of Mist-Robed Gate so badly I can taste it.