I just wrapped up Dreamation and I had an incredible three days of gaming! Dreamation is a gaming convention in NJ by the same folks as Metatopia and this was my first time attending.
As with Metatopia, it was full of amazing, fun, inclusive, creative, passionate, and brilliant game designers (and players). It was great catching up with folks I played with last fall or had chatted with online but not yet met in person. I also got to bring Avital introduce her to the scene. We got to play some fun games together and she got to experience some without me too!
First up I played Everyone’s a Suspect by a Kristin Firth. The game is about figuring out who committed a recent murder and everyone at the table is a suspect. Over the course of the game, the players’ goal is to act as suspicious as possible and no one knows who did it until the very end (murderer included). My character was hyper-paranoid duke in the 1630s who turned out to be guilty (he thought the victim was a Venetian spy). The game was a lot of fun and look forward to it being released publicly!
Next up was Sarabande, a 12 player larp set in the late 1800s at a Paris cafe. The game plays out ten days in lives of artists and revolutionaries who are stuck in their routines. Players weren’t allowed to engage in dialogue but we could paint, draw, make speeches, and recite poetry. I had never played anything like this but it was magical, dreamlike, and surreal. Each “day” started with the same routine that slowly evolved over time and I loved the repetition and variation of a simple loop. The other players were all wonderful and brought the cafe to life with incredible passion and creativity. I highly recommending trying this!
Early Saturday I got to playtest Damn the Man, Save the Music, by Hanna Shaffer. It’s an RPG that seeks to emulate 1990s movies like Empire Records. The game was a blast to play and we told a ridiculous(ly fun) story that involved saving the store by co-opting an off-brand David Hasselhoff (Terry Dietrich AKA The Lips). The genre emulation was perfect and I look forward to backing the game on Kickstarter some time this spring!
Saturday afternoon we played Morgard – a larp / rpg hybrid in early development by Jason Morningstar. The game revolved around a succession crisis in the middle ages and felt very Game of Thrones. I was a revolutionary firebrand peasant trying to negotiate rights and protections for the farmers – most of the other players were nobility who paid me nothing but lip service. Most of the game was negotiations and politics but war broke out toward the end and combat brutal, bloody, and short. Overall a great experience and I look forward to seeing future evolutions of it!
I wrapped up the convention with We Are Roommates Now, a quick larp by Wendy Gorman. The game has two group of players, human and alien, who are going to be roommates as part of a cross-cultural exchange. Over 45 minutes of realtime, the players have to negotiate a roommate contract that covers various norms, chores, rent, etc. We had an incredibly fun and silly time as the aliens made increasingly strange requests – definitely one of the most memorable games I’ve played. It take no prep, is free, and available on line. What are you waiting for – go grab a friend (or three) and go play it!
Overall it was a phenomenal few days of gaming and it was great to (re)connect with an incredible community. I’m bummed that I probably won’t see many of the folks for a while but am excited to bring new games and styles of play to our community in San Francisco!