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Jiffycon

Last night Meetup.com informed me that something called Jiffycon existed in the area. On looking it up, I found that it was a small RPG convention that happens 2-3 times a year, and in fact was happening today in Davis Square, for $10. "How remarkably convenient." Sign-up started at 8:30, but thanks to the cruise I'm actually somewhat synchronized with the normal world, so that wasn't unthinkably painful. Small turns out to mean *very* small, like 20-30 people, 5-6 gaming tables. The games, at least this time around, are indie "story games", like Lady Blackbird, Burning Wheel, InSpectres, and others I hadn't heard much of. I played in both the morning and afternoon.

Lady Blackbird

I think I've downloaded this -- it's free! -- but hadn't read it. It seems to be a set scenario, with high intended replay value in that a few details are pinned down, and the rest to be made up by the players, so the setting can vary a lot each time, not to mention the differences of play. Still, you could probably do the same to any scenario, like Keep on the Borderlands, though LB has lighter yet more comprehensive rules. The general setting is as if Spelljammer and Firefly had a baby: "solar system" with Imperial and Free worlds, and a smugger ship that looks remarkably like Serenity, but "space" is full of air, the scale is appropriate for aircraft, and the 'worlds' are probably more like medium size asteroids ranging down to Little Prince worldlets. Game comes with 5 PCs, a start point, and starting goals; complexity is high enough that it's probably a fine multi-session mini-campaign, and our game in fact ended at a nice mid-point, nowhere near to achieving an official end. Recommended.

Note that while it's basically a module game, I think it's complete enough to make a light normal game of its own, with totally novel characters or scenarios. It's got more advancement possibilities than Spirit of the Century -- actually, it basically has the Secret and Key mechanics of Shadow Over Yesterday, right down to the xp numbers.


Forsooth!

This game is like a generator for lost Shakespearean plays, and *is* meant to finish in a few hours. You make up -- possibly randomly -- a setting and themes, and 2-3 characters per player. Each PC has a Soliloqy and Aside per game, combat is "you choose to die, take your attacker with you (competing for applause in your death scenes), or exit wounded". One PC for each player is a Protagonist, who wins non-lethal conflicts with non-Protagonists, and in the default mode the game ends when all Protagonists are married or dead. PCs have Motivations they seek to fulfill, or else are foiled, and Oaths, which may be Forsworn. PCs get Applause from players for being cool, and there are two 'winners', the Forsworn PC and non-Forsworn PC with highest Applause.

We rolled up a castle on the moors in Troy, with themes of Deceit and Power, and ended up with Trojan War 2: Electric Boogaloo. PCs included the Queen of Troy, actually a long-abducted Greek named Helene, whose husband had recently died and who was sworn to defend Troy; her daughter (my Protagonist) a scheming puritan who sought the crown and swore to never marry, her dullard puritan son, a lusty swordsman, scheming vizier, honorable knight, buffoon general, fool, and only two Greeks (a king, also the queen's *first* husband, played by the girl playing the son) and his brutish villain general Ajax (me again). The Greeks didn't get many scenes.

The queen and king ended up united in death; my Princess achieved her goal, and with a divine command and dramatic reveal, married what turned out to be her half-brother. Forsworn, then, but you'll note that she had to end up Forsworn, dead, or not a Protagonist -- which is possible, I could have had Ajax soliloquize himself into more importance. Even after death: a player can bring on one ghost. Since we never used the non-lethal conflict mechanic, I could have done that without losing anything other than dramatic integrity; a Protagonist ghost with the Motivation of looting Troy would have been odd.

Much fun was had, and I even bought a copy, $10 at the con vs. $14 online.

Other

I had lunch at Red Bones. I thought others would be there, but apparently there were vegans so they diverted to Snappy Sushi, and LB ran late thus I was uninformed. The BBQ beef sandwich was good.

Trader Joe's seems to be indefinitely out of stock of European style yogurt. NOOOOO. I bought their other kind, with pectin and all, and it seems so weird. Maybe I'll need to start making my own again.

Heard John Scalzi do readings at Harvard Co-op last night. I should actually read something by him. Probably starting with Redshirts.

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Damien Sullivan
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