Zombie Cinema Actual Play

Only 3 of us in my normal gaming group could make the game this week. Normally I run FreeMarket, but with just 2 PCs, I didn’t think it would be all that compelling. Plus, I kind of wanted to play Zombie Cinema again.

I’ve already talked a bit about what Zombie Cinema does and how it works. I’ve since learned that a couple of minor things are wrong in that post, but I got the main points right and it’s not worth editing or writing a new post to clarify. Can’t get all the rules right the first time, right?

The first play through at GenCon was definitely a bit rocky. There were 4 of us. Two of the other players had played previously but both agreed they struggled with the rules a bit. So we read through the rules at the table (the booklet is pretty small) and pretty much just started playing. We struggled at a few points, but once we started seeing what was happening in game and comparing that with the rules things started clicking.

So, going into the game last night I was a lot more confident. Also, there’s some good resources on the Zombie Cinema website to help clarify the rules and offer some play-advice. Now armed with a single session under my belt and the help from the site I was ready to give it another shot!

The following is last night’s session condensed into story form. No mention of mechanics whatsoever.

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GenCon 2011 Debrief, Part 5 (Games Played, cont.)

Finishing off the games I played this year are a couple games in a playtest phase: The Dungeon Job, and Spark.

The Dungeon Job

The Dungeon Job is a hack of Leverage being done by the Chatty DM.

Prior to sitting down I’d never heard of Leverage. I had absolutely no expectations. And sometimes that creates some of the best gaming! Just go in willing to have a good time.

The underlying system both games used are Cortex. Bear with me as I do most of this from memory from a game that I played 6 days ago. Luckily my brain tends to absorb game rules, so I should have the big picture stuff pretty accurate. Continue reading

GenCon 2011 Debrief, Part 4 (Games Played, cont.)

There were a few games I was specifically looking forward to playing this year at GenCon: Lady Blackbird (I managed to play in a hack of it, at least), Inspectres, & Apocalypse World.

Operation Blackbird

I’d heard good things about Lady Blackbird, so I was looking forward to having the chance to play it. Unfortunately I didn’t get that chance, but I did get to play in a hack of it. So, instead of playing in more of a steampunk/Victorian-type setting, the characters were all spies in the 60’s. Note: you can get the rules for Lady Blackbird here for free.

I’d like to be able to compare the hack with the original material. Luckily the system is simple enough that I think it will be able to handle a lot of different situations pretty well.

The system’s pretty simple — seriously, take a look at the link above and check out the pdf. The rules take up half of the character sheet. The rules are simple, elegant, & interesting. Continue reading

GenCon 2011 Debrief, Part 3 (Games Played, cont)

Two games I got to play at GenCon used modified versions of the Fate system: Dresden Files, and Bulldogs.  I also tried a short in-booth demo of the upcoming Mistborn RPG from Crafty Games.

Fate

I’ll just talk about Fate in general a bit before any specific thoughts on particular games.

If you’re unfamiliar with the system, you roll 4 Fudge dice for everything. They’re 6-sided, with 2 blanks, 2 -, & 2 +. Roll that, modified by your skill in something (generally 0-5 outside other special modifiers).

Fate seems to be one of those systems I always have fun playing with at cons, but it never quite feels deep enough to entice me into buying games that use it. Which is kind of odd, because there’s a number of things that really ping my interests. Aspects are great from both sides of the table. As a player I can (and I’m unfamiliar with the exact terminology here) tap them to re-roll or get bonuses on a roll. The GM can also offer me fate to act in accordance with a particular aspect — this tends to be somewhat of a negative thing in gameplay. As in, the GM is saying if you stick to your aspect and do this, I’ll give you a Fate point. I’ve yet to refuse a fate point from this. It’s always too good to pass up! I like anytime I can look at my sheet and have character bits that really help me decide how my character will act. Even better when there’s the enticement of in-game rewards to play to them. More games need this sort of thing. Continue reading

GenCon 2011 Debrief, Part 2 (Games Played)

Of the many games I got to try at GenCon this year there were a few very definite standouts: Fiasco, Zombie Cinema, Dungeon World.

Disclaimer: I played all of these as part of demos between 2 & 4 hours long. It’s quite possible there are some specifics I got wrong, but I believe I have most of the important parts right. Enough to paint a decent picture of what was going on at least.

Fiasco

A Game of Powerful Ambition & Poor Impulse Control

Fiasco is inspired by cinematic tales of small time capers gone disastrously wrong – inspired by films like Blood Simple, Fargo, The Way of the Gun, Burn After Reading, andA Simple Plan. You’ll play ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. There will be big dreams and flawed execution. It won’t go well for them, to put it mildly, and in the end it will probably all go south in a glorious heap of jealousy, murder, and recrimination. Lives and reputations will be lost, painful wisdom will be gained, and if you are really lucky, your guy just might end up back where he started.

Fiasco is a GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It’s like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it’d take to watch one.

I’ve also heard people describe it as “make your own Coen Brothers movie.” However you want to think about it’s pretty amazing. It’s a very story-heavy, rules-light system and it’s designed to be played in a single session. Continue reading

GenCon 2011 Debrief, Part 1 (General Thoughts)

GenCon 2011 was this past weekend. I arrived Wednesday evening and left early Sunday morning. In that time, I had the opportunity to experience quite a lot!

Before diving into specific games I got to try out, I’d like to just give some general thoughts about the whole experience as well as a few highlights.

This was my second time to attend GenCon. I first attended 2 years ago. It was great to go back and see people I hadn’t seen in a while as well as meeting even more gamers with similar tastes. As always the indie gaming community is amazing. It’s extremely accessible and the amount of talent and creativity is always astounding. I love being able to chat with the game designers and sometimes even play their games with them. And those that are still working on a design are always gracious and accept comments willingly. It can’t be easy to put your ideas out there like that and not know how it’ll be received. I love gaming and I might someday like to try my hand at some design, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the hurdle of putting myself out there like that. Continue reading