Monday, January 23, 2012

Kapcon 21 - Part 1

My Kapcon started on Thursday this year, when we playtested Liam’s The Matter Involving the Missing Cats, an adventure for Cat-thulhu, where you play Arkham cats investigating the Mythos.  I reprised my role as Pops the (mostly) fearless maine coon, and we soon got to the bottom of the mysterious lights and missing cats, and managed an improbable victory of sorts.  I tried to provide some useful feedback, and Liam said the game ran well at Kapcon

I spent most of this Kapcon (5/6 rounds) running games, and these games either ran to time – or slightly over time, so it felt I had less time to talk to folks than in previous years, but it was good to catch up with some people at the drinks beforehand.

Round 1 was Games on Demand. This was my first ever time in the G.O.D room during a round, and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of those proposing games, and the range of games on offer. I elected to play Geiger Counter (although it was a close call over Monster of the Week) as I wanted to try this well regarded survival horror offering as part of my thinking about EPOCH. The game was admirably facilitated by Svend, and we somewhat randomly agreed to play Steampunk adventure in a South American Jungle, with an abandoned research station, ancient temple, and infectious Panther People.  It was very much like the opening chapter of The Passage, only with more Victorians:

This was a fun game, and I think the mechanics were very interesting. I liked the idea of a thought dump at the beginning, and was very impressed with the trailer mechanic, but I’m not sure that this, and the inclusion of useful ‘elements’ at different ‘locations’ is sufficient to create a rich or well developed plot when the players are trying to balance a mechanical consideration of their own characters survival against the fluctuating dice pool of the ‘monster’. The game had a rich set-up, but the twists and developments were executed on a much less ambitious scale, as the burden of balancing continuous creativity wore against mechanical considerations and general fatigue. Like many Indy games there is also a constant tension around getting universal buy-in for new ideas, as these will affect all the characters – so a group of like-minded individuals might furiously agree and have a great time, but a group of strangers are more likely to be tentative, and often accept ideas they don’t like for the sake of politeness, and have a less rewarding experience as a result.

For the record, my character, the cruise director of our giant zeppelin cruise ship, Athos Theopopolus, managed to keep things together until the very end, trying to keep the spirits of his Victorian cruise ship passengers high until he discovered the zeppelin had crashed in a freak storm, and the survivors were finally overrun by Panther People.

Round 2 was Sundown, my Western Call of Cthulhu game, and the third time I’d run it. This time I had decided to run a game with all 8 pre-generated characters, as I was fairly sure the simplicity of the scenes and relative dynamics between the group (there are 3 bad-ass loner types) would allow this increased cast.

On the day, one player didn’t show. I radioed for a replacement, but alas, none were forthcoming. The game was actually great – it delivered almost exactly the kind of experience I wanted. While reasonably limited and formulaic in structure (it is a Call of Cthulhu ‘con game), the players did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and ensuring their drama overshadowed, but did not obstruct, the main plot. I thought every player did a great job, and afterwards I was immediately keen to run the game again – which is usually a sign that the game has gone fairly well. 

To be continued...

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