Last weekend I went to DexCon 10 and mostly hung out at the Indie Explosion! It was a blast (eh... bad pun, bad!). I had a great time. I played 'Fae Noir' which I really enjoyed. The game system and the setting are both attractive in so far as the setting is interesting and the game system is suitable for that setting. The world is set in the 1920's. World War I has not ended, but evolved into something completely different. To the surprise of secular civilization, the Fae have decided to return to earth from Arcadia after a 500 year sojourn. And so when they arrive they find the world at war and so they decided that taking over the world could just work for them. Sneaky and magical they infiltrate and begin to succeed. Then, when the humans catch on, World War I morphs into something more like the Great Fae War. What's interesting is that some of the fae like human civilization and switch sides, and vice versa. So the world is a confusing grab bag of magic and technology where you can't be sure whose who or what's what. And gosh, it's a lot of fun. The Gamesmaster for our 'Fae Noir' game was Tom Tancredi, and I thought he showed a good command of the game rules and the setting, and his improvisations were spot on.
I also attended two panel discussions with 'the Indie guys'. The first was on "How to market your RPG". That was great and I got a lot of great advice from Rob Donoghue of EvilHat Games and the other guys whose names I (very) regretably didn't catch in my notes. Darnit. Lesson learned! Anyway, everyone gave me really excellent thoughts and advice. Superior.
I then sat in on Luke Crane's 'Burning Empire' game which was incredible. The game and the Gamesmastering fit together fantastically and I was deeply impressed by Lukes mastery of Gamesmastering. Really fun.
Next I went on to another Panel on "Game Design" with Rob D, Luke, Fred Hicks, Russ Collins, and Don Corcoran. That was really interesting. The guys talked about the Indie scene and where it's going and the challenges. Then when Luke came in they wound up grilling me on my game. I think it went really well in so far as they asked me really challenging questions and I actually produced answers that made sense to them. Nice. It also gave me a chance to really think about the goals of my game and how I'm executing them. Very cool. I got some good bullet point statements out of it for sure.
Generally I milled around and met people and bought a slew of Indie games to read. I want to compare the Indie game rules to my own system. The most important aspect has to do with how the Indie guys are attempting to forge new directions in terms of the the Gamesmaster-Player relationship. There's a lot of friction over the concept of "Player Empowerment" and I want to get a handle on it, and see what the Indie rules have to say. I got 'Dogs in the Vineyard', 'Polaris', 'Universalis', 'Fae Noir', and 'Shadows of Yesterday'. They look great. I'm about halfway through DitV now. So far so good. I particularly like the setting so far. Interesting.
The adventure to New Jersey was great. I'm really really glad I went. Afterwards I got references to links to various useful forums and started this thread at theRPGSite: DexCon 10, Indie Explosion! - Photos which you will see turned into a huge flame war. Wow. Did NOT expect that. However, in the end I think it may have resulted in more good than bad, perhaps. You can catch some of the positive fallout at Q&A: Luke Crane.
This week I've spent assimilating this material and working on a new document which is titled "Aspects of Gamesmastering". More on that another time.