07 October, 2008

Sydcon Debrief

It's been 8 years since I last attended a game convention in Sydney, it's surprising how many familiar faces are still around the scene...how many people recognised me...how old some of the crowd is starting to look.

The Eighth Sea was run 7 times over the course of the convention to various degrees of success.

I really have to accept the notion that no game can be for everyone. Some people really just don't get the concept, it's a bit different from the other games that are regularly seen at conventions and anything that deviates from the norm will either resonate more strongly with an individual player or it will just seem a bit off key compared to their regular playing style.

I tried to play with the notion of restricting genre within the system to see how the game would play under a different series of constraints. 3 options...1950's Pulp Sci-Fi, Victoriana Steampunk, and Modern Dramatic Sci-FI (a la Stargate SG-1, Firefly, etc.), I threw in a fourth genre twoard the end...Anime.

I guess it still depends on the players, and since I haven't seen the game run by any GM other than myself, I can only guess that the potential GM plays a major role in the game as well.

It seems to play very similarly depending on the genre, and the different genre conventions simply seem to be set dressing on something that remains the same at it's core. I haven't decided whether this is a good thing or not, it's simply an observation at the moment.

Almost 30 players were introduced to the system, and I sold five more copies...which is a good thing.

Other good things to see with the system are a clearly defined sweet spot. 4 to 6 players is great for inter player intrigue. It's enough to get factions appearing on the table, but not too many for players to get frustrated or bored with the continuously convoluting plot.

One experiemental session ran with 2 players, each controlling a pair of characters. This was purely experimental, and I did warn the players in advance that the result could have easily ended up being a train-wreck...but it ran well. Definitely outside the sweet spot for the game, but with the right players it runs well (I awarded convention trophies to the players for their efforts in this).

One of the slower and less successful sessions involved a pair of kids, young teenagers who've quite probably been alive for less time than I've been roleplaying. Intensely competitive and always trying to dominate the story, they just didn't understand the concept of shared narrative at all which gave the game some tense moments that I had to smooth over as delicately as possible while trying to keep things vibrant and interesting for the other players. The other problem is that one of the pkayers in this groups was an old convention attendee from years ago who had played in my sessions from the mid to late 1990's. He knew how fun the game could be and he knew my GMing style. So thankfully, he was a help.

Among the players, I had individuals who were fascinated with the structure of the mechanics, I had others who were intrigued by the games interplay with narrative and the way it draws forth a communal subconcious for a short period (there were some pretty intense discussions with a few people along these lines). Then there were the players who simply enjoyed the fact that they could run riot, compared to the limiting aspects found in plenty of other games.

On the whole, a successful convention. Marred only by the fact that I didn't go home first to take my wife to the after party for drinks and a bit of socialising/networking.
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