So Gen Con!
(Yes, I moved over the weekend. No, the new apartment is not in anyway put together. Yes, it resembles a shaken snow globe of stuff everywhere. Nope, not thinking about that right now.)
Gen Con was awesome. I hung out with friends we only see at Gen Con (played SmashUp, Hello My Name Is..., Brewin' USA, and Paperback over a couple of nights), went to several panels, talked on one, played in a live-action puzzle game, and ran two sessions of Dog Star.
Dog Star is a scenario in the Eclipse Phase RPG. The tag line for this one is 'Doom Metal Laser Whales in a dungeon crawl on the surface of a Sun.' Yes, the characters are in the bodies of whales adapted to live on the surface of a sun who need to go investigate a space installation floating in the corona of a sun. It's awesome and I am looking forward to running this scenario for my gaming group, Technical Difficulties. (Also, if you're in the DC area, the partner is going to be running it at WashingCon 2!)
Running this scenario at GenCon is actually why I'm willing to talk about GenCon on a Monday, my Writing blog post day. This was the first convention I've run gaming sessions at and I thought I'd talk a little about the parallels I see with writing.
A few weeks before Gen Con, I got the scenario from Post Human Studios, the folks who publish Eclipse Phase. The scenario is (to my mind) a lot like the background development material you develop for a writing project. You've got the relevant world building material (or in this case, pointers to the parts of the vast amount of world building that are specifically relevant to the scenario). You've got your character bible, i.e. the character sheets. You've got the antagonists and their motivations. You've got the inciting incident and background material on it. You've got the outline of the action you expect to happen (i.e. what would happen before the characters come along and throw a monkey wrench in your plans). And you've got some expected resolutions. And then you read through it all, let it seep into your head, and sit down to execute the story. In this case, run the game.
The two sessions I ran, there were 6 players and seven available characters, so I had a slightly different mix of characters between sessions. And the interaction / comfort level between folks at the table was a bit different from game to game, of course. First game at four folks who play together regularly at home who had really fun character moments together plus someone who'd played the scenario last year and therefore was hanging back verbally to let other folks have more impact on the story. Second game, there were fewer humorous bits, fewer back-and-forth character moments, but everyone seemed to have a good time.
It was interesting, both groups made very similar choices. I mean, it's a pretty straight-forward scenario but both groups made similar choices. Option between getting to the interesting point fast but not having emergency bugging out fuel OR getting there slower and having fuel to leave fast? Both groups chose to go slow and have fuel to leave quickly if need be. Investigate now or rig to blow up in the event of 'oh shit'? Both groups chose to rig it to blow up first.
I don't think I was steering them into those choices....
Any rate, can't talk too much more about the specifics, not and surprise the Tech. Diff. folks when I run this. :D
So yeah, for me, the scenario is the developmental writing work and running a game is the four-hour marathon writing session where the details get filled in, clever bits of dialogue happen, and your characters surprise the heck out of you. Possible taking the story in a completely unexpected direction.
No editing phase though. We're doing it live!