So I blogged last week about roleplaying and how I’d grown disconnected from it over the years. I mentioned at that time that I had registered for Dreamation, a New York City-area convention devoted entirely to gaming of all varieties, from indie RPGs to hardcore war games. It came highly recommended, so I was cautiously optimistic.
You will be happy to know that I did make it up there and I did roleplay for the first time (essentially) in over ten years. I was signed up for seven games and played four of them. Why only four? Because my wife, and then my son, took ill and I couldn’t justify keeping them cooped up sick in a hotel room while I gamed. We came home Saturday morning.
I regret not playing those last three games, but it was pretty much out of my hands. But at least I did play, which was the whole point of the exercise.
First off was Monsterhearts, a game of teenaged monsters and their emotional travails. I was super-nervous going into this one, not least because it was my return to gaming, but also because I haven’t been a teenager in a long, long time. This game, like all the others I played, was totally new to me, too. I had to learn the rules at the table, along with everyone else.
It went fairly well, I think. My character was a kind of creepy, introverted ghost-teen just looking for some human contact, and though the lion’s share of the “action” — this is not an action game like, say, Dungeons & Dragons — went to another couple of players, I was happy just to do my thing and let them have the spotlight. Everyone seemed to come away pleased.
The next morning I played a game called Remember Tomorrow. Of all the games I was set to play, this was the one that I was most concerned about because it involved no GM and was almost entirely improvised. Could I do it? The answer is: yes, I could. People seemed to like my character and the story tools I brought to the table, and though we spent half our allotted four hours just setting up, we got a good two hours of gaming in. All was well. The GM recommended an empanada restaurant to us for lunch which, while offering tasty treats, may have contributed to the illness later on.
Afternoon brought a playtest of The New World, a very non-traditional RPG from a noted independent designer. Despite the complexity of the rules (and they are complex), we got started in under an hour. Once again, as with Monsterhearts, I’m not sure I pulled my weight roleplaying-wise, but the game is set up in such a way that individual contributions matter less in the scheme of things so I don’t think I represented a drag on proceedings.
That evening I played a game that was two years in coming: carry. a game about war. I had been invited to play in this particular GM’s carry game some years before, but for various reasons it never came to pass. Now I could see what carry is all about.
I and my fellow players took the roles of Marines involved in the Battle of Huế and I think things went all right. My enjoyment was diminished somewhat by the presence at our table of an overly enthusiastic roleplayer who tried to draw all the attention by shouting a lot and using tons of profanity before finally collapsing into a faux-weeping wreck lamenting the sorry tragedy that was Vietnam. It was very weird and off-putting. I do think the game is good, though.
Unfortunately that was to be the end of it. By Saturday morning all three members of the family were starting to feel under the weather and because of checkout times, we were obliged to either leave first thing in the morning or pay for another night we weren’t going to use. We opted for the former. I dropped a note on the table of my morning game with my apologies. I was unable to do so for the later session, though I sent an email to the GM of my scheduled Sunday game.
So Dreamation was a halfway success. On the one hand, it showed that I can still play and it encouraged me to play still more. On the other hand, we kind of got shafted due to events beyond our control. Consequently my memory of the event will be tainted by the unfortunate side of things.
If I were to do another con like this again, I would do two things: 1) I would go alone, that way the wife and child aren’t called upon to twiddle their thumbs while I play; and 2) I would only play in the mornings and afternoons, as staying up until midnight is beyond my capacity now. It might also keep me from getting sick from bad food and lack of sleep.
And who knows: maybe I might dare to run my own game. I have a year to practice.