Gen Con was surprisingly great this year. For some reason I was dreading it, and it ended up being maybe my best experience there ever.
I can't recall everything I did, but here are a few things I did:
I ran a bunch of games at Games on Demand, including the new Fiasco (which feels great at a table full of strangers), Betula, and The Warren (in my Flowery Dream setting, which I love and rarely get to offer. They met Tlaloc, Ahecatl, Itzpapalotl and of course the Four Hundred Rabbits). My brave, stalwart buddy Steve Segedy worked about 35 hours there, popping out occasionally for meetings to keep our actual business operating. I feel like such a fraud next to him, swanning around and playing games.
I ran Beastfuckerfor some new larpers, who will now be very disappointed by whatever their second larp ever is. If you aren't familiar with Beastfucker, it is a short game by Wendy Gorman and Julian Hijde about a powerful family that must make certain... sacrifices... every generation to stay on top. It is dark and intense and is a powerful allegory. It is absolutely not a game for new larpers, but hey, it was Gen Con and they insisted.
I played in a secret Luke Crane game. Played Whitney Delaglio's game Prism, which is charming and weird and beautiful. Played Nick Wedig's game Rusalka, which is cruel and full of hard choice swamp monsters and very much in my aesthetic living room. Played BFF, which never fails to delight. Played Jay Treat's cool game Legacy of the Slayer, in which I played the guy who doesn't know magic is REAL. Played Dr. Moss in Honor Bound, and we managed to avoid a duel somehow. I like to think Moss' lurid tales of dicks being shot off helped but I am probably wrong.
If you are seeing a theme here, that's because there is a theme - I go to Gen Con to play and offer games. It's a great place to try new things, to learn about new games, to scoop up new ideas. As a show it seems to be getting better over time.
This year I also moderated a guest of honor round table, which was fun. I'll provide a link when it has been edited, which should be soon.
Bully Pulpit Games' second ENnie was awarded to WINTERHORN at the show.
So that's Gen Con!
I continue to chip away at Coneycatchers, a setting for Blades in the Dark. It is very un-Blades-y in spots. As an example, here's my addenum to the game's normal "player best practices":
Don’t Freak Out About History
The game, and the story you and your friends will use it to tell, are yours. While “don’t be a historical pedant” falls under “Don’t Be A Weasel”, this advice is broader than that. It’s very easy to worry about “getting it wrong” in a historical setting, particularly one as deep, weird and relatively well documented as Elizabethan England. Be bold and mess with stuff. If you don’t know, make it up. If you do know and it clashes with the cool thing your friend just made up, Don’t Be A Weasel about it. If you know something unspeakably interesting and cool, by all means introduce it and let your friends roll all over it like a dog on a dead fish. A Wikipedia-level dive into the time and place can be richly rewarding, but don’t get hung up on it and don’t expect everyone to join you down there.
Keep It Pathetic
Think about this in both senses of the word - Coneycatchers is a worm’s eye view of the setting, and the characters are not heroes - at least, not yet. They are criminals in a proto-capitalist nightmare that has no room for them, and they begin at the bottom of the underworld food chain. They are going to fail, and fail often, and that is as it should be. Of course the other definition of pathetic is “arousing pity through vulnerability or sadness”, and that must certainly apply. Make their lives rich and interesting, but never let the deck stop being stacked against them.
I'm proud of "Keep it Pathetic", which is the most Jason-y advice I could possibly give.
FIASCO IN A BOX
Gen Con pretty much locked the game; it works, it is fun, you don't need me to understand it. A draft of the "new" rules is due in a week. Steve had some intense talks with vendors and distributors about this at Gen Con.
We've got something very topical and fun lined up, stay tuned!