Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Slightly-Late Camp Nerdly Zero Writeup

Had a blast at Camp Nerdly. Here's the quick gaming journal:

Friday: Got Joe McDonald from the airport, then went food shopping and headed down to camp in Prince William Forest NP in Triangle, VA, right next to the FBI Academy and Marine Corps Base. Jason Morningstar and Remi Treuer were just arriving too, so first we played Memoir '44, a WWII board game while we waited for others to arrive (Jason and I beat those Nazis at Pegasus Bridge). It was still just us four, so we made Joe demo his game, Perfect, for us. It's sort of Uber-Victorian meets a Clockwork Orange - you play criminals who for whatever reason are rebelling against the constraints of this society and who have a pretty good chance of getting caught at it by the vicious Inspectors on every corner. I played Gerard Bongo-Shaftsbury, a bulky former opera singer whose goal was to preserve (especially musical) works of art from being destroyed under the new regime. That was fun, and I bought a copy, but I don't think I know anyone here who'll play that with me.

People arrived and I got in on a game of Agon, where I was Praxis, son of Ajax the Smaller, who, with my companions Stentor and Kallias, took on the island of Ithaca, including a nasty encounter with a now-mad Odysseus. Remi did a gread job running the game, and despite the fact that it was quite cold in the cabin we were in (someone, maybe Jason, called it "the Valley Forge of gaming"). By the time that was over I was more than ready for the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Saturday: rose to chile and oatmeal from crockpots, and while I wouldn't normally eat either for breakfast (or at all, in the case of oatmeal), they were warm, and that was all that mattered. Later that morning I played a game in development, Misery Bubblegum, run by its creator, Tony. It's meant to be a quick-play high-school story game, so we decided to set ours during the 1950s Red Scare at Joseph McCarthy School for American Correctness. I was Jack Chaucer: spoiled rich kid and charming bastard (based more than a little on Logan from Veronica Mars). Tony was Mr. Weston the Civics teacher, and Joe was Mickey, the new kid. My traits: "I don't deserve happiness" and "Why am I so irresponsible." Joe and I were in competition over Betty, the bookish girl Jack has secretly liked and Mickey lives next door to. It played fast and memorable - very much looking forward to some more Misery Bubblegum either when it comes out, or while its still in playtest (Tony lives in Alexandria).

Saturday Afternoon: Jason ran an amazing Aztec version of The Shadow of Yesterday where I was Lord Bird, the Sacred Drunk. Me and the other 5 players were commanded by an Aztec goddess to kill the three gods who had ever been with her. Lord Bird is a total coward, so while the others did most of the fighting I did my part by hiding under the table throwing slippery overripe tropical fruit for the baddies to slip on.

Saturday Evening: I prepped the game I was going to run Sunday (see below), while some of the others played a zombie invasion game nearby. Turned in early.

Sunday Morn: Ran a version of Dogs in the Vineyard for Jason, Frank, and Kevin. Dogs is inspired by Deseret-era Utah, and characters go from town to town rooting out sin among the faithful. In the game, its a sort-of fantasy/supernatural setting, but for this game I drifted it fully back into historical Utah, 1857. Set during the events of the Utah War, the players were now members of the Nauvoo Legion sent North to Fort Bridger, WY, in advance of the arrival of the Federal troops. I gave them all historical figures from the era and explained a little about Mormon theology at the time, and they all surprised me with how quickly and effectively they took to emulating Latter-Day Saints of that particular time and place. Eventually there's supposed to be an Actual Play thread (Kevin, I'm looking at you!), which I'll link to here. But I had a great time running it even if I did screw up the final conflict. I might refine it a little and have it ready for me or others to run at gaming conventions in the future, if I think there's interest.

Sunday Afternoon people were headed out, so we cleaned up the campsite and I had a couple of really good talks with Jason, Andy, Mark, and others about what we might do the same and differently the next time around. First off, we instituted a policy that nobody can be the same organizer twice in a row, so Jason's taking the next one (tentatively in May '07) and is already hard at work putting it together.

If I haven't already bored you to tears, you can read more feedback here.