Kaleidoscopic Consequences

Yet another amazing Consequences. You’d think it would get old, but it really, really never does! Consequences is like coming home. The new lodges are great and shiny, even though I do miss the open meadow that I’ve drunkenly traversed so many times.

The parties were lovely and warm as always, even if we had to deal out a lot of back scratches and promise a lot more to arrange them ;-) Next year, we are thinking of putting all the party people in the same chalet and making a dedicated party space. That might be both an excellent and a terrible idea!

I only played good games this year! Let me tell you all about them.

Damned Love

On Thursday night I ran Jay Treat’s Damned Love for Jan, Simon and Elyssia. Damned Love is the only game I know where the warm up exercises are more confrontational than the game itself, and this time was no exception! Man, what a game.

This is the story of a desperate soul who strikes a dark bargain to win the love of her unrequited crush. Damned Love is about desire, consent, power, loneliness, and foolish choices. A love triangle between a witch, her lover & her demon. It will end poorly.

I ran the game rather sloppily, but it all worked out fine. In this version of the game, the lover was a dreamer musician, the witch a needy housewife with a husband and a child, and the demon was “a sexy whisper just behind you”. I got to jump in as the musician’s muse, who was not very happy about having to play a part in the musician’s “I see your eternal soul” fantasy.

The magic influence in the game was subtle, and play essentially became one big metaphor for the ways people misuse their partners. To stave off a black hole of emotional need deep within themselves, or to hold up the other up high as an ideal rather than a real person with real needs.

Man, I just adore this game. I will run it every chance I get.

Closing Doors

There were two games at this Consequences that felt very personal and could only have been written by one person. One was CJ’s game about Danish resistance in World War II, the other was this beautiful intimate game for six players about life after Oxford. Is it a coincidence that they were both great games?

This is a game about a group of old university friends, meeting at their usual holiday cottage for another annual (more or less) reunion, who find themselves jumping through alternative universes. How differently could their lives have turned out? How might those small moments have changed the trajectories of careers, families, relationships? And what’s causing them to jump? Will they get the chance to choose which door to leave open, and which to shut forever?

We all played Oxford geniuses in quantum computing, theoretical physics and whatnot. Fortunately the game itself did not require technobabble. Our group met, mingled, re-established relationships and after a shocking revelation we skipped to a parallel universe where some things had played out very differently. And then again, and again! Eventually the universes started bleeding into each other and things got weird.

Stuart played my detached and befuddled researcher boyfriend/husband/ex-husband/friend with a lot of subtlety and attention for detail – perfect! He wasn’t really husband material, but charming in a man-child kind of way – in a sharp contrast with my extrovert businesswoman. There were subtle roleplay details that would reverb through all universes, and there was a designed emergent storyline rising throughout the scenes. My favorite game mode! I felt like we had a lot of love in every parallel universe, so I picked a romantic outcome.

Steve and Haplocke (<3) were great as a married couple that were contemplating the sacrifices they made for their family life. I can’t really say too much about this game without spoiling it, but it was very good! The themes were not heavy handed, the science took a definite backseat to the drama, and it flowed very well. I’d like to run this!

Last boat leaving

The Consequences schedule needed an additional game, so Tony whipped up something in his spare time like it was nothing!

Rural Oregon, 1982. It’s been 1982 for so long now that you’ve given up wondering why this might be. Is this Heaven, or Hell, or somewhere in between? Life goes on in Silent Valley; love flourishes and withers or becomes a lasting bond; dislike festers into hatred or is forgotten; relationships change slowly but constantly. There’s plenty to do here without ever leaving the valley – and nobody ever leaves.

I can’t say too much about this game, because it is quite spoiler heavy! My game was mostly about utilitarianism. I was a people pleaser who wanted to keep everyone happy by any means necessary. When it turned out you can’t keep everyone happy all the time, I had to do some difficult calculus on the new best way to optimize overall happiness. Since I was surrounded by cool 80’s men who don’t talk about their feelings, that made any kind of quantification very difficult! I kept asking:

Me: “How happy would it make you if I was with you only?” 
Cool 80s guy, staring dramatically into the distance: “Yeah, baby, that would be alright.”
Me: “No, I mean… Argh!! Okay, how upset would you be if we weren’t together”.
Cool 80s guy:“Well, whatever you want, girl, I’ll be alright.”

Damnit, people, quantify your happiness!!

But then, despite my highly rational nature, I got drawn into an emotional romance state by Graham who, like me, just wanted to stay in Silent Valley forever. We ignored many of the drama after that in favor of a single focus love that blots out the world. Graham played it in an 80s cool kind of way, physical, like straight PG Brokeback Mountain. It worked well!

Coffee with Alice

AlIce was the first program to pass the Turing Test, several years ago. But having passed the test, she had no further use or skills, and was sold to a young entrepreneur setting up an online meeting space for users of the new cyberjack technology and called it ‘Coffee with AlIce’. Now the same, slightly older, entrepreneur has announced a new business opportunity – an app to let users experience the taste of coffee through their cyberjack. He has invited reps from a number of megacorps, as well as popular bloggers and celebrities, to come to a taste test and marketing pitch.

This was my favorite game experience of the convention. From the feedback I got from the other players, it sounded like the game needed more substance to make it a full experience for everyone. But I stumbled into a wonderful spontaneous emergent storyline.

I played Alice! I wanted to ham up the fact that I was the oldest and most primitive AI, and that others had surpassed me. My problem was that I had written the new Coffee app, but David, the owner of the coffee shop was taking all the credit. He had my control key and forbade me to tell anyone I had made it! I decide to talk a LOT about coding instead.

At the start of the game I met a lot of other AI’s, including Zurich (played by Jan), who was an emergent AI and a bank, and a personal AI who’s name I’ve forgotten (played by Rei). We talked about what we liked to do with our spare processing power: coding, strategy games, making music for other AI’s, …

People asked what I’d been doing and I had to admit to having been in storage most of the past 20 years, and that my source code had not been updated for all that time. I had a lot of ideas of how to improve it, but my control key wouldn’t let me change my primary function: serving coffee.

I met a trader and his personal AI Lichte 1.4 (Cameron and Adina starring as world’s cutest tag team). Lichte 1.4 solved crime in her spare time. But more importantly, SHE’S A ONE POINT FOUR! I told them my tragic AI backstory, and we had a nice empowering conversation about AI functions and possibilities. After this, I changed my name label from “Alice” to “Alice 1.0” to embrace the possibility of change. RAWR, tiny meaningless act of emancipation!

I walk a little taller and talk to Zurich, who tells me I should talk to our Coffeeshop’s sales consultant (Andy) who is very much into AI freedom. They get me to explain what I would like my primary function to be (self-improvement!) and they make me go up to David to tell him. Whaaat!

Unbeknownst to me, Zurich had been talking to David and slowly convincing him that forcing AI to work for you is slavery! David is very regretful and definitely wants to make up for his mistakes, but he really, really needs the creation rights to the Coffee program. Seeing my chance, I ask for my control key instead. And he gives it to me! I AM FREE!

I am now also a highly illegal AI and will be terminated if I am found out. Worth it! I go to the GM and ask what I can do now and he nearly can’t believe I am holding my own control key. I rewrite my own source code and change my label to ALICE 1.1. Yasss!

I’m a little twitchy now, trying to accept my new life as a rogue AI. I want to show off my new 1.1 version to people, but I also don’t want to raise any alarms. I confess to my AI friend Rei and she proposes we can become friends. “Because friends are people who you can trust”. Trust, that’s it!! All I need to do is find a human I can trust to hold my control key, and then I’m safe! And I know just the guy. I hug Rei and run off to find the Lichtes.

He is very proud of my 1.1 status and says “The next step is to get hold of your control key”. “No,” I say, “the next step for me is to find a human I can trust. Will you hold my control key for me?”. He smiles and says “Only if you promise to always tell me what it is you want to do.”. I happily agree and I am adopted. <3

There are a few complications, solar flares, virus scans, security risks, but those are all far less important than teaming up with my new AI sister to convince Cameron to give us robot bodies!

Or, more accurately, a robot workbench so I can build better and better robots to match my ever-improving AI! FEAR ME, WORLD! Not bad for the world’s oldest chatbot :-)

(Mechanics wise, this game had a co-GM who, as a service, would go out and find the PC you want to talk to, and bring them to you. Awesome!)

The Final Cut

It is 1953. As the new queen ascends the throne, Anvil Productions attempt to churn out another of their critically panned but financially successful pot-boiler horror films at Balvinnie Castle, a half ruined castle in the middle of a Scottish loch; the perfect and cheap location. However, as the evening fog swirls in from the sea, a scream rings out and the mutilated body of a young cast member is found in a locked room. With sightings of serpentine figures underwater and strange noises in the night, will any of the cast and crew live to see the morning or will this be the Final Cut?

This was a good game, but sadly it didn’t really click with me. It required a lot of ham to make the play flow well and I do not ham well at all. Instead I did a ton of investigating and sneaking around – I was a secret spy after all! Then I found the two sleuths in the game and took them to all the places I had already visited, subtly pointing out clues that they were missing. There was a ton of things going on, and the mysteries were silly and convoluted. I quite liked getting to do actual investigation and puzzle solving, it’s been a long time since I had that in a game. I’m happy the GM’s explicitly said that it was okay to go back for more clothes if you were freezing, because I was!

Play Date

The after party ran until late, very late. I had about three hours of sleep. I contemplated dropping out of the morning slot, but since this game was co-run by Graham who we badgered into throwing said after party for us, it seemed very rude not to show up. I’m very glad I did, this was a solidly fun game!

In Play Date, a group of kids have been left with a teenage babysitter for an afternoon. There will be toys, craft time, pizza, and maybe some existential angst. Play Date is a game about children dealing with difficult issues. It asks how we know what is real, and whether that even matters.

We had a great time playing together. Elina was gorgeous as a child pageant girl who was convinced she was too fat. Nick played my bestest friend in the world who I spent a lot of time protecting, and Natalie was smack dab amazing as the most responsible teen babysitter in the world. As I planned, I had a beautiful temper tantrum on the floor with all limbs flying. As it turns out, that is fricking exhausting!

The game had a beautiful mix of drama and angst mixed with building play forts and having cuddly animal siege fights. Really cool!

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Demeter: it’s a sailor’s life for me

We are back from Demeter, a horror larp in the Baltic Sea on an actual sailing ship! Jan and me played salty sea dogs, hoisted sails, drank copious amounts of hard liquor and sang many, many sea shanties before we died horribly gruesome deaths.

It was amazing! Highly recommended, would definitely sail and die again.

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Ship’s Merchant Harding and Able Seaman Vane. Salty sea dogs!

I always decompress from LARPs by vomiting words all over the screen until the experience is written out of my mind. Needless to say that there are sizable spoilers here. If you are thinking about playing Demeter, you’ll probably have more fun if you don’t read this!

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Holy Fox

Juhanna ran his game Holy Fox for Jan, Elina, Marie and me. It’s a game about shapeshifting foxes taking revenge on fox hunters through guile, cunning and moxie.

Because our game had us infiltrate a high-society fundraiser mansion, it felt a lot like a heist game. Socially, the foxes are quite overpowered which helped the heist run fluenty. But there were a few obstacles in the way: a hidden enemy, and the discovery that physically the foxes are far less formidable.

Our high social skills mostly kept Heist Intertia – when you never get to the heist because you keep on planning for it endlessly – at bay. But when quite a lot of new characters were introduced all at once, we did succumb to it for a while.

All in all, a very fun game! Probably the best heist game I’ve played so far. I also quite liked the opening scene to get us in to the mood: very indicative of the revenge genre, and also just a really good setup.

Ex Nihilo

We ran a thing! We were so impressed with Ex Nihilo when we played it at Consequences last year that we wanted to run it ourselves for our home team. It ran very well, again!

Ex Nihilo is a game about AI’s and the scientists who made them. This particular day the AI’s are meeting each other and learning about emotions. It’s pretty damn awesome.

Our previous game had turned out very huggy and had a happy ending, but there is also much room for conflict, so we wondered which way it would swing.

Spoilers ahead!

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Kessel Run VII

The Nappy Napper

A string of kidnappings has led the FBI high up North in pursuit of a serial kidnapper whom the press has dubbed ‘The Nappy Napper’, because his victims are all under one year of age. It will fall on the players to discover the perpetrator’s identity and save the children…

Dead Man’s Hand

Our upper-class British family is enjoying some nice peace and calm, after having saved Queen and Country on their last adventures. But it seems the Haverings are again denied their rest. This time they might have to fight for more than their way of life…

The Stuff of Legends

To redeem yourself you only had to do one thing, guard the boy. You failed and he has been taken by the dark. Follow him into the dreamscape and face his and your own nightmares.

Devastation: Mafeking

2017-01-21 13.10.00Unwilling to abandon the accumulated food and ammunition stocks at Mafeking, on the 13th of October 1899 Colonel Baden-Powell and his regiments are surrounded and besieged. It is up to the Colonel and his staff (and their wives!) to keep up the troops’ morale and hold out until relief!

Beneath the Mask (a game of Dread)

It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend at your friend’s cabin. Then the power went out, and some psycho in a hockey mask attacked. Now two people are dead, and your host is a gibbering wreck. Can you make it through to morning?

Dread is a game of horror and hope. Those who play will participate in a mutual telling of an original macabre tale. The goal of Dread is to sustain the delicate atmosphere that invokes the hand quivering emotion that lends its name to the game. The thrill of a Dread game lies within the tension between desire and loss. You will take on the role of someone trapped in a story that is only as compelling as it is hostile—someone who will find themselves making decisions we hope never to face in real life.

dread

It is the horror roleplaying game that uses Jenga® instead of dice. Pull from the tower and you succeed. Refuse to pull and you fail. The choice is yours. But if the tower falls . . .

An Amaranthine Desire

January 25, 1895. It’s approaching two in the morning. You are all part of a smuggling operation, transporting a shipment of tobacco from Holland to be brought ashore near the small coastal town of Dunwich in Suffolk. Captain Louis Gerd oversees his crew and hired hands, all waiting to ferry the goods from his steamer, the Wave Rider, to shore where a group of locals and a bribed customs official are waiting. A breeze is building, heralding a possible storm. The mood amongst the crew is tense as the sea grows restless. Finally, the lamps to guide the ship to shore are lit on the cliff top.

Oblivion’s Idol

When a lost idol of Naga Sadow is unearthed in the Tatooine desert, a team of Republic archaeologists is keen to be the first to claim the find. But is everyone on the team who they say they are…?

This is an intense character-focused scenario set in the Old Republic era of Star Wars. Expect characters with very detailed backgrounds, relationships with each other and conflicting goals. Gameplay is very heavy on inter-party roleplaying (ie bickering with each other), concealing and revealing secrets, plotting and backstabbing. There will be little dice-rolling (if any). Rules system is extremely simple homebrew, designed to put the focus onto the actual roleplaying.

Marinara

This is a game about the Faccenda family, who moved here from the Old Country two generations ago. Together we will create the family and its members in a workshop. In Act 1 the members of the family will cook the marinara sauce together. In Act 2 we will have a family meal sat around the dinner table.

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It is a slow paced game about low level emotions, the feeling of belonging, family, traditions, nostalgia for the old and anticipation of the new. There is no Cthulhu, supernatural, secret agents or combat. This is a LARP, so the players will actually cook and eat the food. No previous cooking experience is required

Kessel Run+: Rogue Trader: That Which Does not Die (Fate System)

Due to popular demand, some threats and a frankly disappointing lack of bribery, Bavo will once more run Rogue Trader, a game about those with the power, the will, the magnificence to go out beyond the light of the Emperor and bring both the people and planets out there back to the Emperor…And lining their own pockets in the profits. If you like outer space, grim-dark settings, outfits that would make the Napoleonic army blush and are capable of balling on an interplanetary level…

Singularity

In the category ‘Strangest what, I don’t even?!’ you’ve ever played, I present to you: Singularity, a Transhuman Dating Show. It’s the dating show that does not discriminate. Our contestants were:

  • The Computer that Monitors Everything
  • A Dead Planet
  • A Sentient MMO, and
  • Glitch, The Last Flickering Image of a Broken Webcam

We were all afraid to play this. We had no faith it was going to work, and we all expected it to go gonzo about five minutes in. But we stuck with it and halfway through we got the hang of it. All of our crazy characters had real life issues. The Dead Planet was left by their last race, so they had some abandonment issues. The Sentient MMO was into free love, Glitch was a major wallflower and The Computer that Monitors Everything a creepy stalker. Eventually it became easier to layer that in along with all the weirdness and everything fell in place.

We were all exhausted by the end of it. This was a hard play!