“No, nothing I ever do is good enough. Not beautiful enough, it’s not funny enough, it’s not deep enough, it’s not anything enough. Now, when I see a rose, that’s perfect. I mean, that’s perfect. I want to look up to God and say, how the hell did you do that? And why the hell can’t I do that?”
“Now that’s probably one of your better con lines.”
“Yeah, it is. But that doesn’t mean I don’t mean it.” – All That Jazz
There were a lot of games at Strategicon’s Gateway 2016 this year (duh, go figure.) Even ran a few myself, both on and off books. Conventions can be touch and go in terms of the quality of gaming, both in terms of players and GM’s, because it’s ultimately game experience roulette – as an open gaming experience, you don’t get to dictate who will be sitting down at your table (unless you do the game in your room, naturally) and unless you know the GM you won’t be sure if you’ll have a good narrator/storyline/NPC representation, what have you. I usually do pretty good for sign-ups at my home convention, because people know me and are willing to come along for the ride, most of the time. Doesn’t always happen of course, especially when I go to conventions outside of my comfort zone. (And boy, you want to see a humbled tigger? You just see me at an empty table for a game I traveled to run. It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas in July.)
Gateway 2016 is now in the can! Man I’m tired, thought I would get some extra time by staying at the hotel this time around, but all it did was give me incentive to try and accomplish more than what is deemed safe and healthy. The Happy Jack’s live RPG podcast probably should’ve killed me. Well at least the drinks afterward. Oof.
In addition to running several Bedlam Hall games as well as a playtest of a new Spirit of 77 adventure (All the Anti-Christ’s Men), I also took some time to run an experimental FATE game, using “Spirit of Century” as the baseline, called Magnificent Bastards.
In the core rules of Spirit of 77, each Role features specialized artwork and usually a gimmick page that references the Role preceding it (for instance, the sweet fight poster between El Fantasmo and Bigfoot in honor of the Tough Guy role.) On page 91, you can see the “Buy Ten 8-Tracks for $1” ad that started everyone’s recollection back in the day. Come to think of it, we may still owe them money. However, in honor of the upcoming Double Feature #3, we thought you’d find it amusing to know just who we were referencing in that original list.
We found all sorts of stuff online recently about Spirit of 77, and all of them are great!
You can find these and even more at our Spirit of 77 website!
I tend to have a weird sense of humor, which probably surprises no one. When walking through the Dealer’s Hangar at GenCon last year, I noticed a trend that one out of every three games being advertised either had zombies or Cthulhu. Superheroes fighting Cthulhu, superheroes fighting zombies. Pathfinder with Cthulhu. OR zombies. Spaceship battles against Cthulhu… And zombies.
So naturally I come up with the idea of eliminating the middleman and have zombies fight Cthulhu. Efficiency and all that. Over a few drinks, I start contemplating this, giggle to myself and then order another. Bob and Jeff naturally ask what I’m giggling about, I tell them and they promptly cut me off. As probably they should. But the idea never leaves my head, it just gets backburnered for a little while. Over the past year, I have toyed with the idea, written a few scribbles here and there, and then put it back in the drawer while I try to work on other things. Usually the challenge of folding a fitted sheet.**
It wasn’t until the last Strategicon here in Los Angeles I thought I would give it a whirl and do the game gonzo – basically, give myself a week to actually construct the game, smoke test it once and bring it to con with no safety net in place. To be honest I was probably hedging a little by smoke testing it once. The game was christened “NecronomiZOMBIEcon” and the next seven days (okay, nights) was spent piecing today how this game would look and play out. I was actually sweating this more than the debut of Bedlam Hall that weekend, despite being a zany little game that was intended solely for a giggle. As my buddy Jeff likes to say, “Short on time before the deadline? TIME TO GET FANCY.”
Players surprise me continually, but not always through wacky antics. Sometimes it by pulling something out of themselves that they have never shown the rest of their gaming table, whether it’s a character concept or decision or sometimes a hidden talent no one knew about.
I was introducing a group of people to Spirit of 77 through the use of the pre-generated game, “Wrath of Cons”. “Wrath of Cons” was created for MechaCon in New Orlean, a one-shot about the cast of a cancelled 60’s sci-fi television show brought together to make an announcement about an upcoming moving revival of the series when gunfire and trouble ensues. It’s kind of Galaxy Quest, So77 style but being the biased dude I am, I like our version better.
The player sheets are pre-generated, but as we settled into getting started, no one at the table had selected the role of the actress behind the first officer, Melinda Smythe (an homage to my friend Mel, by the way). Everyone in the group had picked different Roles, and we were just about to start when one of their players arrived late, sat down, and just picked up the character sheet in front him (Smythe).
My wife joined us in playing Spirit of 77 , and I couldn’t be prouder of the name she chose for her character, a Vigilante from Humble Beginnings looking for Justice: Harvest Gould.
I blogged about Harvey here
, and included some pics of the original Kohler flyers for that most date-specific of yellows which inspired her name, and which I thought you might appreciate.
Three of us also had a great time at “The Nice Guys
” last week, and in addition to appreciating all the great period references, the writer’s name of Anthony Bagarozzi was close enough to Joey Bag O’Donuts was enough to get us laughing before the story even got under way. I’m sure you’re busy, but a blog post mining some of the character and story potential from the movie for So77
purposes could be some great content for you.
Confessions of a Middle-Aged Adolescent
Thanks for the mail, Stephen! You have no idea how many people tell us “The Nice Guys” is a visual representation of a typical Spirit of 77 misadventure. Harvest Gould is a great character name, and a great callback to a sadly forgotten color from the Crayola crayon box (along with burnt ember and maize). Keep on truckin’!
If you’re a fan of game-related podcasts, you may be a frequent listener of Happy Jack’s Broadcast (and if you’re not, you really should be). Both Bob and Dave have been featured on the show from time to time, but in addition to the beer-driven game talk, its host Stu also does an additional series about GM tips and skills called “The GM Briefing”.
GM Briefing, Part I
GM Briefing, Part II
Every so often, Players do something that defy expectation and catch me off-guard. Doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s a doozy. Careful, there may be spoilers in this. Kind of. Sort of.
In play writing, it’s called Chekov’s Gun – if you introduce a gun in the first act, someone needs to fire it in the third act. Basically, it’s a guideline about plot development and detail conservation – whatever you introduce in the initial moments, should be utilized at some point toward the end as part of the twist, resolution or whatever really. Good advice when you’re running a game, and most of the time, it’s a telltale sign that if a player wants to tell you something about their character in advance, they’re going to find a way to work it into the game session whether you want it or not.
I was running “Women’s Prison of the Apes” at a convention which, as it says right on the tin, takes place at a women’s prison. While doing initial character introductions, a player proceeds to tell me about the breakaway pants of his Honeypot character. He was very specific about it too – red, white and blue with snaps on the side. I think his name was even on the backside. He then finished with, “Oh, and I don’t wear underwear.”