Kessel Run is our very own RPG housecon that runs about three or four times a year. The name comes from our hometown of Kessel-lo and some kind of movie. The idea behind the con was to widen everyone’s RPG circles and just to have a lot of fun. So far it’s been succeeding on both counts!
18 people of five different nationalities attended, and filled up all the available space in our house quite neatly. Three new people attended, we even had a friend fly in from Britain to join! Some very good stats there, even though I’d like to see even more new people join next time. Especially some Flemish gamers!
The games we play
It was a busy day and my first game ran super late so I only have hints of what happened in the other games. Here’s what I got!
- Jan ran the intro adventure to Numenera, the spirital successor to Planescape focused on exploration and all out weirdness. Since no one had played before, he just gave them an introduction to the 9th World. I don’t know anything more about the scenario, I still want to play it!
- Ken ran a game of Immortal, which started them all off as themselves, driving to Kessel Run 2016, which made for an awkward time waking up naked in the morgue later after their car crashed. Wish I was there to see that! Then their immortal souls awakened and shit got weird fast.
- Bavo ran a game of Deadlands, a game that’s a lot more popular than I realized, people were lining up to get in! Much gun- and card slinging fun happened, demons were vanquished (?) and interparty conflict got a little scalding. Sounds good!
- Richard ran Invictus, a game about debauched Romans in Pompei around 79 AD. There was a plot to summon Shub-niggerath and the vulcano blew, but whenever I heard people talk about this game they were discussing what had happened to their husbands, wives and bedslaves. Ah, Roman debauchery.
Kris ran the second part of what is now his Devastation series! We played 1936 Nazi-party members sent on an archeological mission around the world. Yes, we played the bad guys from every Indiana Jones movie ever. More so, we were even in Indiana Jones canon as the American we interrogated and killed at the end of the game was Marion Ravenwood’s father!
We had a great time investigating with a wikipedia-like handouts that were underlined on terms we could continue our investigation with. It gave a great sense of having to puzzle stuff together and having some own input.
Mine was the only non-investigative character who was put in to work for the more pulpy action bits. We mostly stayed to the investigative side, making my character comically useless. Fortunately for me and the game, “the comically useless one” is one of my all-time favorite RPG characters and I had a great time setting up a story of mistaken identity (“Are you sure you didn’t mean to summon that other Ulrich Wähner? You know, the great classic historian?”) and finding a passion for travel since it meant picking up exotic hot chicks!
We never really went through a phase of playing evil parties in D&D, so it was fun to play the baddies for once. Though mostly we were team “not sure this whole nazi party is a good idea, but I don’t want to get shot by the SS and well, we are pretty great, right?” but cold bloodedly shooting Marion’s father after taking his information was pretty damn sweet.
A Family Affair
And finally, I ran a game of A Family Affair. A Family Affair is a highly scripted roleplay exercise about relationship drama and betrayal. Think less Closer the movie and more Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. By which I mean, it’s less about flashy dramatics and all about inner experiences, passive aggressive bottling things up and about cutting straight to the bone. Man, this game is beautiful and brutal.
Right before I started running the game, I found out that three of the four players had gone through break ups in the previous four months – some of them very recent. Hot damn! I panicked a bit, but it turned out to be a very strong emotional game where we took a break between each act and talked about our real life relationships before jumping in again. It seemed cathartic.
The game went really well, everyone brought it! Sex became a theme as it was established James and Louise were creative in bed. Louise never even tried to get back together with Dan, but James was all about re-establishing his relationship with Sarah. Just like the first time we played this game, the cheating couple didn’t really come out as evil. Louise came out as a flighty 20-something running from guru to guru, rather selfishly searching for her place in the world, and Dan as someone who just got swept up in her charm and the initial attraction from the day the best friends met these two sisters. I love how this game starts with “So who will play the bad guys” and has you end up rooting for everyone.
Especially the final scenes were stellar. Louise broke up with Dan in a horribly cold way, and Sarah’s confronting James with his affair was very intense. They also did a much better job of working with silence than I did when I played it.
Facilitating the game is a light job, but it’s great to watch this private play unfold before your eyes. The game is a bit disjointed to explain and set up, and I need to find out the proper order for that. And I also should have pushed to larp more, but an apartment or cabin layout offers a lot more options for that than an attic.
The first time we played it, we played with a kind of active audience mode with gasps and smirks being allowed or even heightening play. This time that was perceived as breaking immersion, so this is something that should probably be established before starting play. The game runs short at a small three hours, but it’s so intense that this isn’t really a problem. I should probably work up a few short warm up and debrief exercises when I play it with complete strangers, though.
NEXT KESSEL RUN IS JULY 18 2015!