Monday, September 20, 2010

The Last GwenCon

Gwen Con X, the last Gwen Con ever, was this past weekend. After some troubles with a bus Friday night, Sarah and I were able to make it over there for 4 RPG scenarios and a couple short games of "Are You The Werewolf?" Overall, it was a great weekend, and I'd have been happy if any of these games had run twice as long as they did. All the games had some meaty in-character inter-party-conflict, with PCs arguing with one another in a way that echoed the bittersweet dissolution of our favorite Con. Happy to be there, saddened to go, there was a real sense of "let's go out with a bang" which manifested in some delightfully dysfunctional scenarios. Here's some highlights:
  • We played in both of Tim Beach's lego games this year. Tim does these bizarre RPG mash-ups, with light rules so you can ham it up in-character. One of the games was a blend of several sci-fi franchises, with bits of Star Trek, BSG, Firefly, Terminator, Dr Who, and Galaxy Quest. The other was a "best of" game featuring characters and lego sets from the past 10 years of Tim's games at Gwen Con. Pretty crazy stuff, revolving around the love affair between Ash (from Evil Dead) and Catwoman (from DC Comics), while Dragons attacked Fort Legoredo and Zorro's horse played charades. In a lot of ways, Tim's games sum up the heart of Gwen Con for me, being scenarios you'll just never find anywhere else.
  • For a more conventional RPG experience, I played Vampire: The Requiem for the first time. I've done lots of Masquerade in the past, but this was my first actual test of the "new" system. The rules are really a streamlined improvement over the older system, and it looks to be relatively easy to house-rule back in the setting elements of the previous edition that you might feel are missing. I took to it far better than I thought I would. Session was too short, but with solid character acting all around, and the most "personal horror" I'd seen in 10 years or so. My character nearly shot himself in the head, and three out of the 4 PCs really struggled with the beast within. The fourth quickly embraced that beast and became a real monster, which served as a great roleplaying foil for the other three.
  • The academy award in the disfunctional party category was taken in a Cthulhu-meets-Cloverfield game that Michael Lee ran on Saturday night. It certainly wasn't a subtle scenario, and he really could have used a back-up character for the PC that died early, but it was a great game none the less. Two PCs were treasure-hunting archaeologists in it for the fame and glory, two were the Miskatonic University biologists who'd screwed them over, and two were the FBI agents investigating the other four. The scenario itself was short and sweet, and mainly just a pretense for the 6 players to bicker and threaten one another while a monster rampages in the background. You'd hate to have that conflict for a long-term game, but as a one-off it was a pretty clever device.
  • The two games of "Are You A Werewolf?" were likewise short and faux-argument-laden, but extremely enjoyable as a result. One of them was the most ridiculous game of Werewolf ever, with literally zero normal townsfolk, and special identities for everyone.

A great send-off to the Con series that first caused my wife and I to move to Seattle. Saying "good bye" to dozens of "once a year friends" was hard, but in several cases it at least motivated us to finally exchange contact info and make some efforts towards seeing certain people more frequently.

We'll miss Gwen Con dearly, but at least it rode off into the sunset gracefully instead of burning out or imploding.

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