RopeCon 2014: Friday (by Aki)

This year’s agenda: Trying stuff I’ve never tried before, for your benefit, my dear reader.

The Speed Dating LARP

Okay, you can probably forget about the LARP part. We were instructed to roleplay (paraphrasing) “the most interesting versions of ourselves”.

First, I’d like to say that I don’t really want to “nerdshame” anyone. Nerds are much more important to society than most people think. Without us, we would still be living in our caves, because nerdiness is so much about curiosity, and curiosity is the only way to make new discoveries.

Of course, this being a bunch of nerds, the gender balance didn’t go quite as well as it could have, but on the other hand, since I didn’t really expect to find dates here, it was interesting to talk to some guys. And sadly, some nerd stereotypes were reinforced. Of course.

For example, the guy with whom I first talked with, wouldn’t go beyond the suggested list of topics. For example, the first of these topics was about the number of times you’d been to RopeCon. He wasn’t ready to talk about anything beyond a number. When I tried to elaborate, he just wanted to move on. Well, at first you’d easily think he just didn’t want to talk to me (understandable, if he was expecting to talk to women), but since he was on my right the rest of the process, I was able to listen in on him from time to time (not much, of course, since I was talking to someone else at the time as well) and he was still doing the same thing.

The guy on my left seemed very anxious to talk to women, almost on a comical level. He seemed mad when he didn’t get the opportunity to talk to all the women in the group, and expressed his displeasure quite vocally. Sorry, my friend, but you do have the option of actually talking to women outside of such structured events.

Another guy was really intent on talking about something important. When I mentioned I was happy to reach the part of the table with the bowl of nuts, he quickly questioned me about why I was willing to talk about something so casual, or mundane. I guess I destroyed our chances of finding a new economic model during our three minute “date”. So, sorry world.

Living in this world must be pretty awkward for women. Not that they were all that normal either. There was on woman, who asked me about my ideal partner. It was one of the questions given to us to start conversations. And indeed it did. The question included a bunch of beings, such as vampire, zombie, werewolf, wizard, shapeshifter, and other. My choice: shapeshifter, and if I need to elaborate, you don’t need more life experience. However, the person I was talking to had a different view. According to her, shapeshifters can only take one other form.

She had a follow-up question. Okay, that’s good. She’s really thinking about this, right? Well, her question was whether I was open to a relationship with a faerie. Because she’s a half-faerie herself (and apparently her ex-boyfriend was a half-werewolf, which I don’t quite understand). At first I thought she was playing a role, taking the LARP part a bit more seriously than the rest of us, but as far as I could tell, this was not the case.

Well, as I said, I’m not one to nerdshame (although I kind of just did that), so I’d like to say the following: When you make me feel more normal than you, you need to make some changes in your approach to find people. Learn to talk to people. I can’t say I’m that good at it, but at least I can hold a conversation, on a multitude of subjects. Don’t try to force people into your weird world, unless your sure they are ready for it. Of course, you shouldn’t outright lie about anything or hide anything important, but showing your better side would be a good idea.

On the other hand, there were beutiful, thoughtful, and/or interesting people of both sexes there as well, with whom I would have enjoyed spending more than a couple of minutes doing whatever. On the other hand, to them I might be one of the freaks… (not that I’d call anyone a freak in a negative context).

Not that I found anyone there. I actually forgot about that part, and at times just missed the number, or jotted down what I thought it was, so if you were expecting to get matched with me and it didn’t happen, I just might have screwed up. Sorry about that. As I said, I wasn’t expecting much either. I can be quite charming, and actually I was at times, but the alotted time of three minutes is just not enough to counteract my lack of good looks. By being aware of this, I got to have fun, and not stress out over trying to impress everyone, or even someone.

However, there was a bit of a negative side-effect: I don’t get embarrassed easily, but the people I talked to here that I bumped into during the rest of the Con seemed awkward and wouldn’t ackowledge knowing me. So, it was fun, but it might have catastrophically done exactly the opposite of what the intention was. Hopefully the experience was better for others in that regard.

tremulus – The Primrose Path

My first experience GMing in a Con. I’ve been GMing (on and off) since 1987. I’m pretty old school, and pretty comfortable in that role, but of course Con-GMing is a bit different.

First, you can’t control your environment. It was hot, noisy, and the seats at the end of the table weren’t very comfortable. You just have to live with that.

Second, you don’t know who you are going to be playing with. Although, you can control the kind of players you’ll get with your messaging, but that doesn’t necessarily help that much. A huge part of how I run games is that I put my trust in my players. I know them, so this is easy, and I feel it brings the best out of players.

Before the session, I was a bit worried about the players, but determined to put my trust in them. This was helped partly by having a player I had met the year before in an incredible (and I don’t use that world lightly) MonsterHearts game (and as far as I can tell, all the players in the game felt the same way), so at least I knew I would be able to rely on one of the players knowing what to do.

If you’re familiar with how these Apocalypse World hacks operate, you’ll know how characters are made. If you aren’t, its simple. Its basically an extreme form of class-based system. You choose your archetype, and you are given a playbook, and after that its just a multiple choice. Its great, especially for situations such as this. You’ll find the original Apocalypse World playbooks here.

I decided to speed up the process by pruning down the huge pile of playbooks the tremulus Kickstarter has so far provided me, and gave each player three of them to choose from. I also let them trade if they felt like it. I think this was a good balance between using a really long time on this, and letting everyone find something they would like to play.

Our party comprised of Marilyn Hale the Entertainer, Carlos Frankfort the Librarian, Dr. Jeremy Cowell the Scientist, Vincent Harding the Artist (with his pet monkey, Kevin), and Miss Kensington the Antiquarian.

At first, I felt a couple of the players were a bit slow to warm up on the game, but after they got in the mood, they were as self-destructive as the other players. Its important to note that what makes these one-shot horror games fun, is the all-out suicidal actions of some of the players, preferably contrasted by the more investigative or self-preservation oriented actions of the other players, and hopefully each values what the others are doing. Note that I’m talking about players here. Characters are a whole different matter. The objective of the players need not coincide with the objectives of the characters. Its fine for the characters to try to protect themselves the best way they know how, but at the same time their player is actually actively putting them into danger by understanding the genre.

And that’s what makes these games great. When a player gets into the mode that there’s no other way to win than to have as much fun as possible, and part of the fun might be getting their character killed in a magnificent and memorable way. To me, it usually is.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Much fun was had.

In the end, only two characters died. I’m really slipping. Sidenote: the dead characters were the two artistically inclined ones, whereas the rational ones survived. Hmm.

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