On Saturday I continued GMing, went to listen to one of the honorary guests, and finally ended up sumo wrestling a number of people.
Jason Soles had a two hour presentation on this. Sadly, it wasn’t so much a presentation of two hours, but rather just a two hour slot he used for whatever. The actual presentation was only about 10 minutes, during which he seemed to assume way too much about the audience, after which he began to take questions. Gladly, he was able to answer the questions he wished were asked, rather than the questions actually asked (a great technique, by the way, especially in politics, if you know how to do it subtly enough), but it all felt very disjointed, and I left after about a half an hour.
Since what he began with was pretty good, this was actually quite disappointing. He wasn’t well organized with his notes, so perhaps this worked out for the better, just not as well as I, as a person not really interested in his worlds per se, but rather his process, would have hoped.
Still, some very nice points in the early parts, before I lost interest due to the nature of the whole thing.
The main point (at least for me) was that if you put much effort and resources into building a complete (enough) world, you should take into account that the world should be made in such a way that you can adapt the world for whatever purpose you wish. This might mean the RPGs, and miniature games he’s mostly involved with, but also movies, video games, books, and whatever you can come up with.
I think its an interesting starting point, making the world the focus of your business, instead of the game. Usually you start with a product, and if it becomes popular enough, you branch out into other medias. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but perhaps by this approach you can exploit your ideas with better results.
After that he talked about how much history you need, how important a political system is to your world, and so forth. Pretty basic stuff.
Hillfolk (or DramaSystem) – Moscow Station
Hillfolk (or more precisely, the DramaSystem) is a game which emphasizes the dramatic side of stories. Most scenes are basically based on characters having a charged conversation with another character, and then one of them making concession on something. There’s a basic economics within the system, which makes it beneficial for players to make these concessions.
Moscow Station is about CIA Cold War intelligence in the worst possible place.
Again, lucky with the players. At first, when they started to name their characters after alcohol (for example, Jack Daniels), I felt this might be a total trainwreck, but by not focusing on it, everything went pretty well. After taking a bit of time making the characters (actually quite a bit longer than expected), we went ahead.
I told them I had a spy in the room, and if that spy ever found out who is the Station Chief, the game would get significantly harder for them. The setting itself has a special rule whereby things are very difficult for the players, but I took that down a notch, and told them I’d return it to the original level if the chief was ever found out. There was a suggestion I lied about it all (which I did), but at no point did I admit that. Indeed, I made regular glances to the tables next to us, and let everyone at our table know I knew plenty of people in the room (which I did, because at best there were seven or eight Guild members in there).
I didn’t need to do much during the game itself. As per the game, I just called my scene in turn, and tried to make it impactful. The players did quite well in finding a story without my aid. I just pushed it along a bit by bringing new complications. We did indeed get a feel of very frustrated, stressed-out people, who are cracking under the pressure of working under a very difficult situation.
After the game, one player brought up Burn After Reading, which in turn brought to mind Fiasco for more than one people. There definitely was that sort of a vibe at the table as one of the players clearly overextended and kidnapped a Russian spy in daylight right next to their outpost.
After the game we had some time to kill, so we had a pretty good discussion on the game. It was suggested the game didn’t really need a GM, which I agree with, at least partly. I was ready to take things over if needed, but that never came up. Instead, the players were very able to do it by themselves.
One player did ask me whether the game was anything like what I had imagined. I said I tried not to make any decisions beforehand, because it wasn’t really my job, and even if I did have a plan, I try to keep my ego out of it, and let the players have fun in their own way.
Hopefully it worked for everyone. I’d also like to note that my yawning had nothing to do with the game, but my lack of sleep instead.
Sumo Wrestling (with Padding)
We were supposed to wrestle with Lauri. That happened. And after that we spent over an hour with a bunch of people from the Guild (and some outside of the guild) wrestling each other. Sadly, I didn’t have enough battery in my phone to record all the matches, so here’s two. And I do believe they are quite enough.
For the record, I took part in four matches, and lost three of those. The one I won was a “tag team” match with myself and Harri from the Guild going against a pair of people who challenged us. The more chaotic situation seemed to work for me, although I did push Harri out of the ring.