[Dirty Left Field] Indie [Hippy] Con

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IndieCon started a little later than planned, my man with a car was short on holidays, so we had to pick our gaming days carefully. Nevertheless the Kenners Fun Bus was down at the convention late Thursday night and we could have a natter with the lodge crowd before waking fresh and excitable for Slot 1 the following day. This meant missing the Ice Breakers and meeting up with people for a chat, but at least we’d got the main part of the con to look forward to.

Some of the names will be familiar to people on the UK scene, but for international viewers, you can just pretend you know then and they’re nice people who are good to game with… 😉

The trouble with turning up at the time we did is, the first three slots are fully signed up before you get there. However, if gave me the opportunity to have a gentle start to the con, sneak into something really hippy and get one of my own games up on the board.

Slot 1 Games with Shane
Shane was knocking about the place looking to play some card or board games and so I summoned Kenners (although atmospheric interference was affecting our communicators) and we caught up a bit and played some lightweight time fillers. Kithran was offering up a pile of games if we were short too, so people should bear in mind there’s stuff to do at the con, even if you don’t get in a “proper” game.

Slot 2 Ghost / Echo (Some Hippy Sh1t [sic])
You can always play something really hippy if you don’t get in a proper game too. I was too late to get in on some Don’t Rest Your Head, but directly underneath was a game labelled “Hippy Sh1t” and run by Piers “Teh Magus!!!1!!”, so I thought I’d get my hippy on and try it out.

We went through two goes at it. The first one was by the book (well, by the two sheets of A4 anyway). The second time we thought of some “improvements”. The first one was better. Overall it was too broad in scope for me, with the potential for gonzo high. Piers did a good job of facilitating as you’d expect. I don’t think this sort of game is for me, but as I said at the time, you’ve got to try new things. I like more structure or a resolution mechanic, or at least a tighter scope or guiding hand. Story gamers might get a lot more from this though, and you can see the seed of Apocalypse World in it.

Slot 3 Delta Green : Hot War (Blackhawk Down)
First of my Hot War games and the only one I had knocked up specifically for the con. It was untested, so was a bit of a gamble to some degree. Fortunately all the players engaged it and presented strong characters all with their own goals and managed to riff happily off each other for a high octane two hours before the situation became untenable and the pressure cooker finally exploded. One I’ll definitely run again. Cheers to Shane, John, Giles and D (how embarrassing, forgot the last name – its not my fault, they kept taking the sign up sheets off me), for bringing the paranoid awesome! I reckon this would run great as a G+ Hangout game.

Slot 4 Monsterhearts
I’ve long been unconvinced by MH, largely due to the gleeful sex stories of overweight middle aged men with large amounts of facial hair. But I was determined to give it a go, as I want to like the Apocalypse World set of games. MH proved to be a much better set up (IMHO) than AW with the Strings working better than Hx for example.

The tender unconsummated love story that developed between my Vampire and Kenner’s Infernalist was heartbreaking, right up to the point I drained him of blood, and having robbed myself of the only thing I wanted in this world, cradled him in my arms and let the burning building devour our flesh. A hackneyed love story, but sometimes the classics are the best. I’m sold on MH now and am looking forward to trying more of it.

Slot 5 Scorn : The First Book of Pandemonium (Blood & Blasphemy)
Fresh of the (virtual) press, I came to IndieCon with a hardcore game of death metal demon hunting with no chance or redemption, and was really wondering how it would fly. What You Wish For, this was not. It became clear early on that this game was not going to be gonzo-lite, and so not my normal preference, but sometimes you’ve got to embrace a different play style and see what squeezes out the other end.

Demonic babies it turns out. Weapon de jour was a disco glitter ball on a length of chain, clowns were killed on sight, the Cardinal had an impromptu circumcision and the answer to most things was to burn it all down.

The system itself rocked okay, narration left or right depending on success/failure, buckets of d12s, the GM not rolling dice, Cabal points and other things to manipulate the dice rolls and so forth. I’ll probably gather more thoughts at a later date, but for a free game, it’s got some good basics in there for a certain style of play. Player’s Drives we all achieved:

Oh my God he exploded!
Why do I always end up dangling off high places?
Blood bath in a hospital.
A garbage truck just crashed into an ambulance.
Unexpected demonic pregnancy.

Slot 6 Hot War (Oh I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside)
My second Hot War was actually using the default setting. Regrettably at muster I only had two players, but Ash was wandering around looking for something to do and I managed to snag Andy “WFRP” Kybet who was without a game so had a full house along with Piers and Glen. The scenario had gone somewhat awry online when I tried it, so I was unsure how it would work in the flesh.

As with all my HW games, there were several players who’d not tried the system before, so things weren’t as full on as they could have been arguably, but after a fairly low key start I reckon got into it and we had a good couple of hours. There were some great moments, and I think everyone had fun. The players went more with the Twisted Technology angle than the previous lot and it was great to see.

I think it could have rocked harder, the difference between this set up and the other two, was they’re quite pressure cooker, whereas this is more loosey-goosey. For con games I think I’ll keep my HW more focussed. Good work from my players though, we achieved most of the agendas one way or the other.

Slot 7 Hot War Sci Fi (Synthetic Dreams)
I’ve run this twice before and it as the scenario I was most confident with. We had a table of mostly ladies, which was a rare treat at a convention (Brenda, Kelly and Yvonne). The Dutchies did a grand job of understanding (50/50) my roguish accent and fast-paced delivery and despite it being another game where 3/4 of the players didn’t have an experience of Hot War, the conflicts started flowing free and fast. Death, betrayal, moral quandary, self sacrifice, murder, uneasy alliances. All good.

Again we burned through the “plot” in about two hours or so, but I think that’s a good length for such an intense game. Down with six player games and four hour slots. That’s what I say.

Slot 8 Dead of Night (50’s weirdness)
The Dorward was a little tentative about his latest scenario, not sure it would work, but really he needn’t have worried. Just add me, Elina and three Dutchies and there were sure to be shenanigans. A truly international crowd. Although the ending got a bit woolly, we jived our way through a good session and made James Dean proud. Scott Dorward’s good at DoN, it’s who you should go to to find out how it works.

Slot 9 Go Home
The evil Kenners prevented me from doing a tour of the convention hall to say our goodbyes, but to be fair, he didn’t have today off and need to get back before midnight so he’s be in a fit state to work.

I was delighted to win some vouchers in the raffle and was able to ask for some more to be redrawn – as did (I think) everyone else who won money. Good work everyone. I had to throw Kenners’ money back to the crowd as well. Twice.

Despite the dubious pleasure of sharing the lodge with Robin’s dead possum head, it was good to see him and Mr Fricker again and chew the fat. I was disappointed by the latter not bringing any Cthulhu 7th to run, but you can’t have everything.

Great to catch up with lots of people again and play with so many others again or for the first time. The wide variety of differing genders and nationalities helps make the convention what it is, and the lower numbers in total mean it’s not quite as hardcore as Conception. Obviously there are lots of the more left field games, which individual reader can determine if that’s a good or bad thing.

Andy M, Dunc, Old Man Amos and the rest of the crew deserve big up junglin’ massive credit for all the behind the scenes organising and keeping everything running smoothly without it looking to be any apparent effort. Well done to everyone who makes IndieCon what it is, which of course includes all the GMs, facilitators and players.

Kudos to Ash for his charity shenanigans, and Shane for his kids game, and anyone else that did anything else cool. I’m sure the ice breakers were great and the game poems satisfying, but regrettably I didn’t get chance for any of those.

You’ll be pleased to know I spent my game voucher on Trad as Funk stuff (in honour of Teh Magus) and I’m seriously considering more TOR, Savage and other right-field stuff for next time. On the other hand, I’ve taught several hundred people how to play Savage, time to keep up the good work I’m doing at representing Hot War too.

For now I’ll leave you with the last thing Kenners said to me as he dropped me off at home…
“I’ve eaten too many Percy Pigs, I feel sick”.

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