It’s been a long while since I’ve done a recap of my ACNW weekend, but I had a great time and tried a bunch of new things, and thought I’d share.
For those not familiar, AmberCon Northwest is a four-day game convention just outside of Portland, Oregon, at the McMenamin’s Edgefield. It (and other AmberCons) was originally started as a venue to play the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. In recent years, it’s also attracted a wave of indie gamers. So the core of it is still Amber, but it’s a chance to try out all sorts of things.
Ambercon Northwest XXI T-Shirt, with art by Lee Moyer.
After watching Guardians of the Galaxy a few times in the theater, I’ve felt more inclined to try and dust off my idea for a space cowboy Apocalypse World hack. I’ve yet to successfully complete an Apocalypse World hack of any sort, so this might be a dubious effort. But I figure I can at least poke at it for a bit.
For some people, the three-day Labor Day weekend is a last hoorah for summer. Maybe a camping trip. Maybe a day of meat. Some other horrible thing involving sunshine and the outdoors.
I spent three days shunning the evil Daystar and running Monsterhearts one-shots, collaboratively spinning yards of angsty teenage monsters and their messy lives. All in an effort to feel a bit more comfortable with the rules before I run a one-shot at Ambercon Northwest.
I’d be lying if I said general ennui and frustration with roleplaying games is some new thing. I’ve been dissatisfied with a lot of roleplaying games for probably the last decade, but occasionally it spikes up and I want to rant and foam a bit. I almost had a new post written when I bought the newest edition of Fading Suns. It had changed a few things, but left in a lot of the bits I thought were ill conceived. Now Shadowrun 5th Edition is coming out and I feel similarly frustrated. I want to grab someone and yell, “You left the bodies and you only moved the headstones!!”
On the flip side, a lot of Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts have made gaming a whole different level of fun. And it’s gotten me to dust off a lot of game ideas that I’d otherwise given up on.
We played our second session of our Apocalypse World game recently. This is probably the first time I’ve run a second session for any of the AW hacks. This session got me involved in the use of the Fronts and threats for the game. This is the mechanical tracking of plot threads that impact the characters. Normally I run generally off the cuff, with only a vague notion of where things are going and leaving myself open to letting the magic happen. But I figured I wanted to get the full AW experience, so I pulled out the little booklets that I’d printed out with all the other playsheets and started filling them in with guidance from the book.
One of the interesting things about our Monsterhearts game that I failed to mention were the ground rules that were set up for our gaming etiquette. I’ve never really managed to get anything like that established for my gaming groups. In the past I’ve tried to ask people for hard limits and gotten little to no response. And since it’s sometimes hard to just get players to read setting information (“I don’t do homework for fun”), I had just given up on the topic. In general, our rules tend to be an unspoken “Don’t be a dick.”
After Go Play Northwest this year, I found myself wanting to dive into Apocalypse World and its assorted hacks. In part because I have a couple hacks I want to make and don’t want to repeat my past mistakes of taking elements from a game I barely understand and then fumbling it up when I try to apply it elsewhere. In part because it’s just stupid fun. Bizarrely, I still don’t feel jazzed over “the post apocalypse” as a genre. But I’ve had stupid amounts of fun both times I’ve played it so I was willing to give it a whirl.