My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 2


My offerings for Games on Demand (2nd year in a row)
On Friday morning I was scheduled to run a shift at Games on Demand from 9AM to 1PM. Although GoD shifts are all four-hour time blocks, GMs are encouraged to run two-hour games twice because this is useful to attendees who have just a bit of time between events. I was offering the same two-hour games as last year: Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year and Meguey Baker’s At the Stroke of Midnight. It was a treat for me to get to run both: the first group chose to venture in a graveyard at midnight to get a boon from a departed loved one, and the second to follow a community’s preparation for the expected winter hardships. Both groups of players totally “got” the spirit of the games.  To prepare for At the Stroke of Midnight I had re-watched the Pixar movie Coco on Netflix a few days ago… I was not sure how long play would take because it can vary a lot based on number of players and dice luck. We did have to fiat the ending but it had evolved pretty naturally from narration. For we used the quick-play setup (subtracting four cards for each season at random) and the free resource Charted Areas, created by Tony Dowler and available for free download on the Buried Without Ceremony website. Charted Areas offers three map areas to start from, the Subway, the Archipelago, and the River; my players chose to map the archipelago. Both resulting stories were excellent and I will try to post detailed summaries in upcoming days. In the mean time, here are a couple of photos of our map from The Quiet Year.

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The Big Bad Con time blocks are scheduled to provide as many attendees as possible with a one-hour lunch break from 1PM to 2PM and a two-hour dinner break from 6PM to 8PM. I had brought some food to the convention to cut down on expenses and empty calories, so I had a salad for lunch in my hotel room and a 15-minute nap. I’m not trying to be asocial, I just need to pace myself to make it through an entire convention. In the afternoon I played in April Padilla’s game of Bluebeard’s Bride inspired by the movie Gaslight. April is a great GM and once again the players were awesome. I ended up playing the Bride’s Animus, not that far a stretch for me (last time I was the Mother.) Now, I will be honest: Bluebeard’s Bride is a good game but it’s not quite up my alley because I am not a big horror fan. I had played it during the playtest phase and I wanted to see the final result. April’s choice of inspiration interested me because I remember liking the atmosphere of the movie when I saw it years ago. April’s GMing was very atmospheric emphasizing psychological horror over other forms of horror, which suits my preferences, although the form of the game stayed more true to Bluebeard’s Bride than to Gaslight.

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Then it was time for another meal break, game prep, and short nap in my room before I headed to to run my only scheduled game, Robert Bohl’s Misspent Youth using Misha Bushyager’s playset “Young, Gifted, and Black” from the recent supplement Sell Out With Me. The premise:
“What happens when a group of students from a predominantly Black, inner city public school score highly on a test that propels us to a predominantly white private, suburban boarding school? Will the other students accept us for who we are or will they make stupid ass assumptions about us? “Will we be able to fit in with them? Do we even want to? Will we have to sacrifice our identities to become more like them or can we plant the seeds of true multiculturalism and make them more like us?”
Two of my four players had to cancel at the last minute so I was left with two but they were fantastic. The fact that they were already close friends meant that they played really well together, building on one another’s ideas. I had once again brought my big drawing pad, glue stick, scissors, and several pages of character portraits so we had visual support in the for of a yearbook album page that also served as a relationship map (here it is, in progress.)
Relationship map in play, Misspent Youth
Yeah, the school mascot was the Apache, stolen right from Vallejo High School  (where it had changed to the Red Hawks in 2014.) I wrote my review of Misspent Youth a few years ago so you can refer to it for description of mechanics. We managed to get through a complete episode (seven scenes) within our four-hour schedule. The story worked really well and we all made a point of tackling the white liberal style of ingrained racism, with its plethora of micro-aggressions. I think Misha would have enjoyed the result. One surprise, though: the Young Offenders won Every. Single. Struggle. They had unbelievable dice luck! I went to bed around half past midnight, ready for another day of gaming.

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