Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

It\’s All About Pen, Paper and People.

JiffyCon 1 After-Action Report

Posted by Nathan P. on July 30, 2006

So I headed up to Greenfield, Mass for the first-ever JiffyCon, organized by the esteemable Emily Care Boss. The event is a one-day, low-key kind of thing, based around getting together with people and playing some games. I had a good time.

In the morning slot I played 1001 Nights, by Meguey Baker, with Meg and Brennan. I knew nothing about the game except for seeing the cover on Story-Games and assuming that it had something to do with, y’know, the 1001 Arabian Nights thing. I had a good time! The game has a nice structure to it that combines with the included setting elements (like the fact that there’s a menu in the text, and that part of character creation is choosing what your character wears) to create a very poetic atmosphere, and I think we grooved on that well. I wrote down the titles that I made up in my head for the stories we told:

Meg’s character, a palace gardener, told The Story Of Yasmina And Mahmoud As They Struggled Up The Mountain.

My character, the dwarf entertainer, told The Story Of The Boy Of The Earth As He Travelled To The Clouds (And Back Again).

Brennan’s second character, an assistant Astrologer, told The Story Of The Magician And The Herbalist As They Healed The Sultan’s Neice And Nephew Of Illnesses Of The Flesh And Spirit.

Structurally, it’s a rotating GM game where, when you’re GMing, you have your character tell a story with representational figures that map to the other characters being played, because it’s the only way to do things like express dissent or complain or say the forbidden in the Sultans palace without incurring his displeasure. It’s a fun game, and I would totally play it again some evening when I feel lazy and happy and imaginative.

<Designer hat on> The cool bits, design-wise, are the sacred cows that Meg managed to take out back and slaughter in this game. The stories are essentially functionally participationist GM fiat. The GM can literally say whatever they want, but the players get to stake gems (dice) on various elements in the story, which can be brought in by anyone. This staking is the first step in the overall reward mechanic, and its neat and fun. Also, the game uses dice, but only as 50/50 randomizers. Emily made a comment to me that I find very true, in retrospect, about how having a bowl of dice of all different sizes in front of you and you not having to care about which one you grab and roll is a total break with both the fetishization of dice, and the intense fascination with “game balance” and percentage math that is so widespread in gameplay and design.</Designer>

So that was a fun game. And then pizza and delicious homemade tabouli. And then, in the afternoon, I played a game of Mechaton with Brennan and Vincent. Oh man. I had to physically restrain myself from going to the Lego store today. It is a fun, fun tabletop wargame, and I’m going to play with all of my friends. Like you’d expect from Vincent, the mechanics make you constantly assess your priorities and choose the best of your limited options. I ended up totally pwning Vincent, and barely winning over Brennan, and all was good. All I can say is that it is hard to take an objective when you are on FIIIIIIIIRE! And Vincent had the most useless mech ever. It was fun.

Then out to a pub for dinner, and good conversation with Joshua Newman and Emily and Mike, a friend of theirs who was sitting next to me. Oh, and I saw the proof of Shock:, and it was everything I expected it to be. It looks awesome, even though it unfortunately contains no cock. Though it does have an external anus – but really, it’s not the same thing.

In A Wicked Age will contain cock, though. And so the Year of Cock continues.

And then more hanging out with everyone who had not left yet, included Jasper (I dunno his last name, but he’s the guy who wrote Trials Of The Grail and is working on City Of Birds), and good conversation. Including something very special about Owlbears.

Man. I’m really happy that I’m not only making and playing great games, but I’m meeting great people doing it, and I’m starting to generate some solid friendships. It’s a fantastic feeling.

Anyway, there should be another JiffyCon in late October/early November, and I swear I’ll drag more Boston peeps to it if I can. It’s totally worth the two-hour drive. JiffyCon rules!

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