This was my second time. That is to say, I was no Indie virgin. So I kind of knew what I was doing, what games to look out for. It was good to wave hello to people I’ve met last year and to meet new ones as well. It was good to be back.
Indie con is a hard sell to people who haven’t been to it or don’t know much about indie role playing games. The term ‘indie’ is easy to dismiss, as in they are games that weren’t good enough for major publishers. I won’t try and convince you otherwise. I’ll just say that I’ve had the best weekend this year and played some of the best games to date.
This year it wasn’t just me and Elaine, we took some cohorts with us to share a lodge. The convention worked out at 60 pounds per person with pretty neat accommodation included for four nights and a total of 10 gaming slots ( I only went to 6 and was pretty shattered afterwards (yes, gaming can be knackering especially if you forgo sleep in favor of preparation for GMing)). Aside from Elaine, my other lodgemates were new to Indie con and all of them attested to having a great experience.
It’s hard to single out any game I’ve played/GMed/facilitated as the best one, so I’ll try and briefly talk about each of them. I kicked the con off with Jaws of the Six Serpents, a sword and sorcery style setting governed by a FATE-like system where a character sheet consists of a number of vague descriptors and invoking them in role play allows you to add bonuses to dice rolls. It was fairly straightforward, and a good cast of players plus a more than competent GM meant that we were well on our way to an amazing game. I checked out the core book later and it quickly went on my shopping list, although I found the art somewhat lacking. Not that aesthetics are really important, but some inspirational artwork can go a long way.
Next I GMed a World of Darkness adventure, which went quite well, but as far as I’m concerned it’s old news so we’re moving straight on to Fiasco, and specifically the October play set of the month – Back to the Old House, written by Sean Buckley from Leisure Games. I decided to take the observers seat on that one and simply facilitated the game by clarifying rules to first-time players and asking a question or two to move the plot along. It was a joy to watch, the game played out like no other Fiasco game I’ve seen before. Whilst the play set certainly delivers for those who are looking for gonzo, the players went for a more low-key approach and before I knew it, a great Stephen King style story emerged, with a poignant and heartfelt ending.
Afterwards I found myself on a table with a demo of the now revamped 6d6 system and a campaign setting titled 6d6 Hellenic. I’ve played the older version of 6d6 and wasn’t really taken by it, although to be fair, I am not really a fan of generic systems. The new version is definitely and improvement but I still think the game is lacking. It simply didn’t feel finished, many aspects were lacking necessary polish. Kudos to the guys who wrote the Hellenic setting, James and Mark Foster. They’ve certainly done their research and it felt like the world building was carefully executed. The new version has now been fully funded on Kickstarter and I’m really happy for the publishers – my only hope is that the game sees some much needed revision before it hits the printers.
And then I had a chance to play Durance – the new Jason Morningstar (acclaimed Fiasco developer) game of space colonisation gone wrong. This kickstarter funded game has a lot of things going for it. I want to analyse the game thoroughly in a proper review so all I’m going to say is that if you’re expecting another Fiasco – you’re not gonna get it. And the game is all better for it. Durance provides a deep, low-key drama experience with some clever development techniques.
My last game was a yet to be published Sci-Fi Beta Kappa. The premise is simple: you are Alien students trapped in a lousy university on Earth, or Terra, and all you wanna do is throw a crazy party of epic proportions. This is pretty much National Lampoon’s with extra-terrestrials. The game is very gonzo and has an interesting ‘never fail at anything’ mechanic, allowing for the most improbable to come true. Our game, for example, featured, amongst other crazy things, six pink painted elephants pulling the dean’s car as a sleigh whilst we slew a sacrificial x-mas dinner (university mascot and last eagle on earth). I felt like a GM was an unnecessary element and the writer was nice enough to hear out my criticism and promised to send me a copy of the game document so I could try out a GMless variant.
The ones that got away: I really wanted to play Hillfolk, the new drama focused game from Robin D. Laws. Unfortunately, the game I signed up for was cancelled. I also never got a chance to play Microscope, which was a big hit at the convention. My lodgemates also highly enjoyed Dead of Night, Icons, Tenra Bansho Zero and Squadron UK. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to play them on my trip next year. See you there.