Birthday house con and play testing

This year my birthday coincided with a four day weekend, which I took advantage of and arranged a house con for the sphere of gamers around Nordnordost. Over four days we did loads of gaming, had some very nice meals and even managed a small birthday party combined with a book swap.

The Academy
My game about students at a boarding school has gone through numerous iterations. And without me first realising it I got stuck in a vicious circle of slowly changing preferences and always being a little behind on the updating the game. Which lead to it being close, but never quite finished. The game has been five years in the making, and now it feels like its about to be ready. Nothing is holding it back, the interior artwork is done, the rules finally work and the cover art has been ordered.

We played a three year session about a Martian military academy, hidden under the ice on Io – Sparta. A place where students prepared for the war against Earth, achieved the peak of physical perfection and mental resilience through a strict training regimen. A place where curling was the highest form of ritualized competition.

The rules fit the narrative and influenced the story in meaningful ways, the students developed in interesting ways and the evil plots and schemes of the liberal Earthlings finally drew the students into the war they had been preparing for.

Until Dawn
A few weeks ago I posted a hack for While the World Ends about estranged teenagers. It’s a fine hack, but the playtesters thought it should be a game of its own, rather than just a hack. One of them will have to change name, but right now there are two different versions of Until Dawn, one hack and one game. We managed to squeeze two separate playtests into the con, and I now have loads of notes and feedback to digest for the next version of the system.

Sex?
During the con fellow Nordnordoster Elin’s essay on introducing sex in games dropped on the Gaming as Women blog. It’s a good read and it lead to some interesting discussions during the con. I’d put it on my recommended reading list for anyone who wants to bring any difficult matter or adult subjects into their games, but don’t know how. The advice given is applicable to a much wider range of topics than just sex.

Witch from Pompey Crew Design
I would also like to make a shout out to Pompey Crew Design who were kind enough to send us a preview of Witch – The Road to Lindisfarne so we could try it at the con. It’s a hack of Montsegur 1244, just like my game The Daughters of Verona, but it takes the storytelling in a completely different direction.

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