Dreamation 2012 In Review

Dreamation 2012 in Morristown NJ was an astounding convention for a host of reasons.  I drove down from Ottawa with break in Syracuse to meet an old friend of mine in the flesh for the first time. It was a remarkably pleasant time to drive down through upstate New York, but I was most grateful for the opportunity to stop and rest in the hotel. The lack of affordable internet did not help matters, but at least there was a wi-fi enabled greasy spoon a few blocks away.

Thursday evening: The first event, where I ran my playtest of the Spark RPG under the title “The Spark of Creation”, where we cooperatively made a setting and a group of characters from scratch, followed by 2-hours of gameplay.  This playtest will get its own dedicated post.

Friday morning: I had my second playtest, titled “Seeking Suki”, using a premade setting and pregen characters. Three noble playtesters participated in this session and we tried out using the faction/organizational subsystem. I will give the blow by blow in its own post later on.

Friday afternoon, my playtest session imploded with insufficient players, so I jumped into a playtest of Project Ninja Panda Taco, which was a ton of wacky fun. We had a few slip-ups in terms of the procedures and the emotional reaction to the game was not perfect, but it was a barrel of laughs.

Friday Evening: My astounding girlfriend threw me a surprise birthday party and invited the other game designers at the con to attend. It was a real joy to meet people in the designer community and It was probably one of the best birthdays I have had in recent memory.

Friday Midnight: Microscope was excellent, starting with the touching personal story of a father who feared to abandon his sick daughter’s bedside until the dust storms left him no option. New artificial lifeforms, the Tunan, were discovered in the underworld. The Tunan were special in that they recycled of the same 1001 souls lifetime after lifetime. It was a short session, maybe 2.5 hours long, but it was a blast and worked better them I expected.

Saturday Morning: This was the second cancellation of my Spark RPG playtest, but It gave me an excuse to jump in on a session of Shooting the Moon with Emily Care Boss. It was the most emotionally powerful game I have ever played in my life. It is rare to have a game session with enough depth that I feel that I grow as a person. Thanks to all of you who participated in this experience.

Saturday Afternoon: I played in a playtest of Brennan Taylor’s new game “The Art of Power” where I tried to portray a commoner in a noble’s world. It was lots of fun with some novel mechanics and a lovely theme. Check it out if you can.

Saturday Evening This was the penultimate playtest session of Spark, once again following the “Spark of Creation” formula with a total of five players. Three of the players had been present in the Friday Morning game, one had heard good things about it and the fifth person there was Rob Donoghue. This was certainly the most fruitful of the game sessions, partially because I made several significant illustrative errors in running the game. Rob’s frank and accurate criticism really helped me understand some of the more subtle flaws in the game as written. This will get its own post later on down the line.

Sunday Morning I say in as an observer in a game of “Becoming”; currently a rich and fairly balanced betting game with minimal storytelling elements. Brian got a number of comments from this test and I can foresee a rock solid RPG (or board game) emerging from this. I am eager to pick it up when it is available for purchase.
Sunday Afternoon I ran a 7 player session of Dungeon World, Curse of the Bloodstone Idol. I hacked it to include an ambush of caniblalistic halflings and a prince of the Quasi-demi-paraplane of snow. In hindsight, running that game was probably foolish, but the sensation of running that was incredible. Without more guidance from an initiative principle, it was a bracing and intense experience. I can’t wait to run another session of Dungeon World.

I had a lovely time and I certainly look forward to attending more Double Exposure events in the future. I look forward to meeting each of you in person once more.

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  • Brian Engard says:

    Sounds like a pretty awesome Dreamation to me. Glad you liked Becoming; you may be interested to know that I took a lot of your (and Mike’s, and Irven’s) feedback to heart, and many of the mechanics have transmogrified since Dreamation. It’s (hopefully) more story-driven now, though I haven’t gotten a chance to playtest since modifying. Thanks again for the feedback!