Actual Play – Until we Sink (8/17/2013)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlayers: Kristin Firth, Jason Morningstar, Steve Segedy, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Until we Sink

I walked into my room after playing a great game of Atomic Robo to find cool peeps playing until we sink. Someone offered me a drink, I picked up a card and horrible southern accent, and I started playing.

I played the big, dirty, and a little bit stupid caretaker, who, given my state of mind, mostly just wanted to do simple tasks like poor more whiskey for everyone, myself included.

They were already in the middle of the game, so I tried not to disrupt it. Tensions were high between the characters and I was quite content to let them stay that way. I also realized towards the end, that I was the only one with the means and potentially the motive to kill the sports fisher. If only the alcoholic writer had paid me to do so.

In the end on a boat, what else was I to do but confess.

Jason played the hotel owner, which I think he played last time when we played it in Oakland a couple years ago. Jason makes a great hotel owner. Calm, cool, and ready to divert blame at the drop of a hat.

Kristin was a great alcoholic. We loved finding out that she used a ghostwriter, and that she had infact paid for others… her ghost writer… to come to the island.

Steve was very important, the celebrity I think, and he acted very important!

Karen was smart, capable and suspicious. I confessed because I knew she would figure it out anyway!

Thoughts on the game

Until we Sink is a delightfully fun game to play when a little tired and a little drunk. It is also the source of some amazing poetry.


Actual Play – Atomic Robo (8/17/2013)

Robo-Cover-600pxGM: Mike Olson
Players: Me and four other gents
System: Atomic Robo

Yay, not only did I get to play Atomic Robo, I got to play it with the creator, and awesome dude Mike Olson. Talk about first round draft pick!

Robo was present in the game, but I was keen on Helen McAllister. The tech savvy underestimated daughter of Jack Tarot. Here’s the blurb about her from the wiki:

She is rather brash, speaks her mind easily, and is quick-tempered, but is very decisive and has quick and nimble fingers. As part of the vigilante duo, she serves as the mechanic, inventor, and intelligence-gatherer while Jack is out crime-fighting. To conceal her identity, she is codenamed Nightingale during missions when father and daughter communicate with each other.

Yeah, my kind of character!

Mike’s game put us all right in the action. We started at Jack and Helen’s house having dinner but quickly on the radio heard about an attack from space. Jack and Robo were quick to action, hoping in the car and taking off… and Helen was quick to sneak in the back seat.

From there we battled giant many legged mechanical monsters, saved innocent people, and put a stop to Baron Heinrich von Helsingard’s nefarious plans.

And we smiled while we did it!

Thoughts on this game

Mike is the first Fate GM that I have EVER seen that managed to both kick the PCs butts and make it fun while he was doing it. He regularly swung with Fantastic, Epic, and Legendary rolls to trash our days, and he had some brutal weapons to boot. We were also quite skilled (often starting with a Superb in our best skill) and had plenty of Fate points to invoke our own aspects, as well as free invokes on situation aspects that he gave us free at the start of the game. End result a lot of high rolls were made, but the bad guys often won out by a lot.

How did Mike (and Robo) make this awesome? Consequences applied to the setting! You just too four stress you can’t absorb. Sure you could take a gut shot (which I did, yay) but you could also apply a consequence to the setting, like say, the supports for a floor of the Empire State Building are collapsing (which we also did, yay)!

The other thing Mike did was be very quick to encourage dramatic action. “C’mon drop a Fate point on that aspect and lets set that go to Legendary” or, in this case “Or you could just save your Fate points and take some stress. Stress is nothing, don’t worry about it.” It was that kind of coaching that really made the game rock.

I can’t wait for Robo to come out. Wearing my Evil Hat hat (har, har) for second, it is nearly done with Layout as we speak, then it goes to proofing, indexing, and author review/sign off. After that we send it to the printer. Huzzah!

Actual Play – The Zoo (8/17/2013)

playset_the_zooFacilitator: Jeremy Friesen…er Sean Nittner
Players: Three other fine folk
System: Fiasco
Playset: The Zoo

I was excited to play in a game with Jeremy and when I noticed he had a Fiasco table running I signed right up. We picked The Zoo setting very quickly (almost no debate at all), which is a great sign.

The Setup

The other players were new to Fiasco, but they took to the setup quickly. We had the follwing

Lawrence Chinn – An old hand at the zoo, who had been working there “too long” and was always “getting to old for this”. Lawrence was a good guy who never got a lucky break, and was modeled very closely after my good friend from college by the same name. He was a zoo keeper and because of his tenure, also a board chairman.

Relationship – Board Chairman and Zoo Custodian
Object – Administrative. Lease to the original zoo grounds.

Danny Iago – Danny was the custodian who should have lost his job years ago when an attendee slipped and broke his leg because water spilled on the floor of the bathroom. The zoo owner, however, had a soft spot for Danny, and so, after a big cover up, Fred Hicks instead took the fall…for the fall.

Relationship – The Past. Haven’t really spoken since the case was closed.
Need – To get respect from the one who left.

Abby Normal – Abby was a State Farm workman’s comp insurance adjuster who couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie. She knew that Danny should have been fired and she was determined to make sure justice was served. When she got word that another claim had been filed against “Anytown Zoo” she hopped on it faster than ninjas on hot apple pie.

Relationship – Illicit animal smugglers
Location – Around town… train tunnel behind the zoo, or as it was in Anytown Zoo, the mini train the zoo offered for tours.

Karl Dobson, Wolf Keeper – We established really early on that Karl and Lawrence were the only two actual keepers at the zoo. All the other work was done by usually well meaning but incapable volunteers. Karl, however was the wolf keeper, and that was it!

Relationship – Keepers. The only two actual keepers at the zoo. Lawrence has way more seniority and was effectively Karl’s boss, but he end up doing most of the work (and whining about it) away.
Need – To get out…once your favorite animal is secure. Karl wanted to “rescue” his wolves from the zoo. Lawrence just wanted to retire.

Lawrence Chinn – as above


Disaster strikes

True to the game we were playing, Games on Demand had a Fiasco of it’s own and Jeremy (who was coordinating) had to run off, which was a bummer because I wanted to play with him, but it worked out fine. I facilitated the play and we had an early romp through Anytown Zoo.

Karl started the action quick, with a tiger getting out of it’s pen. Hilariously, we didn’t actually address the tiger for a few scenes, so when it did show up, it was licking a little kid’s ice cream cone, while the child’s mother first freaked out and then threatened to sue. No harm came to any children or tigers in the making of this game.

The great part of that was that it really gave Abby something to sink her teeth into. The tiger go out during Danny’s shift, and she was hoping to leverage that investigation into re-opening the old case that got Fred Hicks fired.

Lawrence started off really passive. He didn’t want to be bothered by Abby, and he couldn’t stand Karl, but Karl was his only keeper, so he wasn’t going to fire him (even though he ignored the tiger on account of watching his wolves). Lare, as I depicted him, just wanted to be left alone and make it through his day. He felt perpetually harassed by the people around him. That all changed when sifting through paperwork to give to Abby, he stumbled upon the Lease to the Zoo, which listed him and Danny as the somehow inheritors of the property. HELL YEAH!

The Tilt

Folly – You can’t afford to lose it…but you just did.

Deception – The mighty fall…exceedingly hard.

Oh these were so good. Unfortunately, with a two hour slot, we were running out of time, so we decided to just do one more round of scenes instead of two. The lease was lost (and I don’t think ever found, even in our epilogues), Abby overly aggressive investigation techniques got her put under review by state farm, and Karl continued heedlessly forward to “rescue” his cubs.


Oh, it was all bad. Abby was fired of course. Karl was caught by the police with the mama wolf half in and half out of the hole he had dug for her. Lawrence had to run the zoo by himself and personally deal with the “a tiger almost ate my child” lawsuit. Danny somehow got away reasonably well, it turning out that he was Karl’s accomplice all along and made off with a truck full of stolen wolf cubs, abandoning Karl to the police and his fate.


Thoughts on this game

We talked a lot about, going for the most banal idea possible. Abby wasn’t an FBI investigator, she was an insurance claims adjuster. Just the same we ended up with some pretty gonzo action like chipping a whole in the concrete wall to free the wolves, and a tiger roaming the zoo. It worked though. The mixture of zany with mundane mashed up nicely.

The first scene was one of my faves. It set up a relationship that was later flipped on it’s head. Lawrence and Karl were together in the warthog pen arguing over who was going to feed the temperamental one. Karl didn’t care if it was his job, he was the “wolf keeper” and he wasn’t going to do it. The scene set up the status dynamic early on, that Karl was a pain in the ass, and nobody liked him. This paid off really well when it got tilted later. He had just assaulted Abby (by taking the badge she was waving in his face away from her) and when she came to Lawrence demanding that he be fired, I had this great realization that yeah, Karl was a pain in the ass, but he was my pain in the ass. Maybe it was a common enemy bringing people together, or just that Abby irritated Lare even more than Karl did, but I loved the switch when suddenly Lawrence was defending Karl!

Our aftermaths were brutal, as they should be. I don’t remember all the details now, but trust me, nobody was happy. And the zoo, it was a wreck!

Actual Play – Professor Claudius Lightstep: Taken! (8/17/2013)

Anima Prime CoverGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Will Robot, and three other fine folk!
System: Anima Prime

I got really excited about Anima Prime when I played it up at Go Play North West. The system was light enough to encourage the high-flying steambot megasword Final Fantasy, Avatar the Last Airbender action that the setting presents, and it has just the right ruleset to back that up and make choices feel meaningful in the game. If you haven’t checked out Anima Prime do it now. The game is free (I know, awesome) but if you’re like me you’ll want a physical copy in your hands as well.

I figured the best way to run the game was with the demo adventure, so I downloaded it (also free off the website) and read it during the flight to Gencon. I liked the characters, the situation, and even the bad guys. Win, win, win. It even starts (and this seemed like a theme for me at Gencon) on a train!

GM on Demand

I wasn’t slotted to run games on Saturday. In fact I had only signed up to run for a couple of slot on Sunday because I wanted to have the freedom to run all over the con… but I instantly regretted it. I knew that I would have a lot of fun running games and that I wouldn’t have to worry about signs ups. I could just sit and wait for players to ask for something. So, on Saturday as I was looking over the offerings I just asked one of the hosts “hey is it okay if I run a game this slot?”. Since there were tables free they pulled out my menu (the Games on Demand menus look great this year) and game me a table.

20 minutes later I was running Anima Prime for four eager players. Woot!

Anima-prime-GoDThe play is the thing

As per the adventure scenario I started off with a brief opening about the setting and situation, we introduced the characters and their relationships, and then jumped right into a character scene. The players were new to each other, and their characters were set up to have sort of gruff attitudes towards each other, so the chemistry wasn’t tight at first. As they played though, I felt the table warming it and just as the character interaction was reaching a crescendo, I played the Final Fantasy 7 Fight Scene music. Or at least I told them to envision it in their head!

The players took very well to the combat mechanics. They were excited about achievements and had really awesome descriptions of bad-assery.  After the fight we were nearly out of time, but with the few minutes he had left, got in one more character scene and saw them flying off to find Professor Lightstep, with their newly liberated MechaniFlyer!

Thoughts on this game

Many thanks to Christian for support and advice running the game. I gained a lot by playing in his game first. Both in understanding the rules and in my confidence with the setting and system.

Actual Play – Six Gun Showdown (8/16/2013)

feature_sixgunGM/Reader: Jared Sorenson
Players: A lot
System: Parsely Games: Six-Gun Showdown

We signed up for this game event. And paid real money for it. And we got swag.

Jared ran Parsely #8 Six Gun Showdown, complete with pew pew pew sound effects and his 8-bit smile.

As a group we stunk. We kept going back and forth trying the same things over and over again and dying for it. We died a lot. In fact, I started keeping track of how many of ended the game… by the end it was most of us.

But that’s a great thing about Parsely, even when it’s stupid and frustrating, it’s fun. A puzzle you’re sure you can unlock if you just give it one more try. Jared’s presentation also adds to the effect, though I have to say, he’s vastly under utilized by GenCon. It says a lot about the play culture that his games at Pax fill up a room of 500 people, and at GenCon we had maybe 20 to 25.

What is Parsely

Jared took old text adventures and turned them into roleplaying games, well, sort of. He just took old text adventures, and called someone the parser (who read through them) and then gave everyone else one chance to give an instruction like “Go North” before they had to go south to the end of the line. The game is fun because it’s so silly, because it’s so strict, and because people never pay attention to each other. It’s the most high-stakes game of telephone out there.

What’s better, since the game are so small and presumably cheap, Jared gave them out as prizes for everyone that attended! Yay, prizes.

Actual Play – Freight with Peril (8/16/2013)

FateCoreBookCoverGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Six great Gen Con attendees who had never played Fate before
System: Fate Core

Never mix business with pleasure. That was the less on I learned over and over again at Gen Con. For most of Thursday and Friday my boss was calling me every hour asking for help because a server went down and our users couldn’t access their files.

Justin Jacobson, of Blue Devil Games, also made the same mistake I did, and brought his job along with him. In the middle of Gen Con he was doing work, and the work happened to happen at the worst possible time, when he had a game scheduled to run. Luckily it was Fate Core, and I was happy to give it a shot.

Freight with Peril… from the author

“Freight with Peril” is an extended Fate™ Core scene for 6 PCs. It was originally designed for use at Gen Con in 2013. It is intended to be run using 6 PCs within a two-hour period (allowing some time for introductions and wrapping up).

About Dawning Star

DAWNING STAR is a sci-fi setting published by Blue Devil Games. It was originally published in 2005 using the d20 System rules from Wizards of the Coast and released under the Open Game License. In 2013, Blue Devil Games relaunched the setting, using the Fate™ Core rules from Evil Hat Productions. DAWNING STAR is a “firm” science setting, grounded in real-world, existing scientific knowledge but extrapolated beyond current understanding. So, while there are numerous xenomorphs populating the Helios system and the mysterious “psionic” alternate dimension known as Red Truth, we try to ground these elements in actual science.

In 2196, scientists discover a large object on a collision trajectory with Earth. The free countries of the world unite to evacuate as many people as possible on large transport ships. As the fleet is leaving our solar system, it inadvertently interacts with a long dormant gateway station, and the ships are scattered across the galaxy. The setting follows the fate of one of those ships, the Dawning Star.

The Dawning Star finds itself in the newly named Helios System and settles on the planet Eos, similar in composition and atmosphere to Earth. There, the evacuees seek to rebuild society. In the years that followed, the humans have come to learn that they are not alone on Eos or in the system. In fact, there are numerous alien species there, remnants of the long dead Star Confederation. For the setting relaunch, the timeline is advanced several years. Another evacuation ship makes its way to the system, and the evil vaasi have begun an invasion with the intent of total annihilation.

One of the setting’s great strengths is its versatility both in focus and style. It supports a variety of different sub-genres, from Space Western to military to space opera, played in a variety of ways, from ultra-gritty to over-the-top pulpy. In fact, before running the scene, talk with the players to get an idea of their preferred playstyle and tailor the scene accordingly.

717The play is the thing

My players were great. Mostly their background was Pathfinder, and they had never played Fate before, but they took to it very quickly. Without ruining the adventure for anyone, I think it’s fair to say there was plenty of opportunities for action and tough character choices. Their collective responsibilities and motivations served as great seeds for compelling aspects and sticking them in all sorts of sticky (and awesome) situations.

One of my very favorite twists early on was that one of the players asked me if people normally carried firearms. Ironically it was the one player who played the alien race that asked this, so I turned the question back around on him. “Good questions, why do you roll Lore to Create an Advantage and find out.” He hit the difficulty and created the situation aspect “Everybody is packing”. Suddently the train they were on was part of the wild west, and differentiating innocent bystander who was carrying a gun from deep cover operatives became MUCH harder! That is really when the game picked up steam.

Thoughts on the game

Racism came up at the table. And I was glad to have an opportunity to address it. Every player at the table was white and we had a game where every character was human except one. who played a pseudo-indigenous insect like alien. Early on one player described his character as xenophobic, and soon after another player join in with him. Right then I pulled back the curtain and asked everyone to consider that trivializing or romanticizing racism with the excuse that we’re playing a game, still doesn’t make it okay. If your characters are racists, then let’s address that issue as a serious one in the game and treat it with respect as a major problem in the setting. Or lets leave all that bullshit out of our game. The opted for the latter. I was very happy I caught that one early on.

Actual Play – Prayer Circle Playstorm (8/15/2013)

GM: George Locke
Players: Sean Nittner, Lizzie Stark, Emily Care Boss, and Jason Morninstar.
System: Prayer Circle LARP

After The Artist Colony George and Lizzie invited some of us, those interested, to stay for a second playstorm. This one centered around the power of prayer. I really enjoyed the previous game and still had good energy, so I gladly signed up.

The format of the game is a denomination not specified Christian church-going family that has just lost a very important woman in their lives (she was many roles: mother, patron, ex-mother-in-law, mother-in-law, and ex-wife). Her final wishes were that the family come back together in the church and find a way to forgive each other. I think George said one of the themes of the game was the contrast between God’s unconditional forgiveness, and humans very conditional forgiveness.

The Game

This game ended up hitting extremely close to home for me.  My character was divorced for reasons that striking resemble my own divorce, and although my character lost his ex-mother-in-law, it hasn’t been that long since I lost my father and sister.

We started in a prayer circle discussing why we were there, all playing our characters to the hilt, and then flashed back to a moment of pain, when one of us hurt the other (or, as humans so often do, when we both hurt each other). The flashback we elected was the break up between my character and Lizzie’s character. It hit home like a tidal wave, one that just kept surging. Each ebb in the scene was a moment of dread preparing for the next flood. At one point George tapped me on the shoulder and asked “how long can you keep pretending everything is okay?”

That question was a moment of truth for me. It registered for me the difference between art or play, and the reality that it both informs and emulates. In a game we expect the character to come into conflict when they want mutually exclusive things. But in reality, my experience was just a lot of endurance, and only letting out the truth in small, often passive aggressive, doses. I’m not saying everyone operates the way I do, but I did feel, at that moment, the strong connection between my life and the life of my character’s severed. In a game, I would push forward as though everything I had created with this person, a house, two children, a life together, was easily gambled, even expendable. In life, I was never so brave.

Thoughts on this game

I really didn’t know what I was getting into playing this game. It stirred up a lot of for me. Thinking about my ex-wife, thinking about my dad and my sister. I remember leaving and really wanting to stay connected to someone. Bless her heart, Emily walked me home.

Jason also had a lot of good feedback on the LARP, which he gave there. Mostly to do with how different denominations would respond to it, and that the game should pick a particular denomination and keep it true to that.

We got to sing in the beginning of the game, which was great. Emily has an amazing voice! I think it would have offered more closure for me if we sang again at the end.

Actual Play – The Artist Colony Playstorm (8/15/2013)

GM: Lizzie Stark
Players: Sean Nittner, Karen Twelves, George Locke, Kira Scott, Marc Majcher, Emily Care Boss, Jason Morninstar, Terry Romero, and more.
System: The Artist Colony LARP

I had this amazing dinner that Jason and Steve invited us to on Thursday evening. At that dinner we met some really awesome people, Ajit, Lizzie and George. Lizzie and George are huge fans of Nordic LARP… and later that night they invited us to one!

Artist Colony, which Lizzie is renaming now, is a LARP about people at, you guessed an artist colony. Everyone is given a random mix of cards that contain: relationship status, trauma, a descriptor, art form practiced, how long you’ve been at the colony, and your expectations or motivations. From this your character is assembled.

At first I played “J”, a clingy writer who just wanted to socialize instead of writing. In fact he hated his writing because it was a mythical (and fake) retelling of his past. J had grown up dirt poor and he wrote short stories about a scrappy young girl named Beatrice Bee, who was a poor orphan, but her scrappy sensibilities and ingenuity got her through every challenge. Boxcar Children meets Nancy Drew. Only for J, that was a total lie. His experience being poor was that it sucked and no about of do-it-yourself-ness made that any better.

After two nights though J left and I can back as Anton, also a writer but of non-fiction, who was just there to work and flee his own demons. I only played Anton for one “night” and didn’t fully feel I was in his shoes, but I was getting there.


The LARP took place over several “days”, each of which last 20 minutes. The days were broken down into private creation, cocktail hour, and late night socializing.

Daytime for doing Art – The days passed by Lizzie telling all of us to go stand somewhere alone and close our eyes. She told us to think about the work we did, how it was different from working at home, and asked us questions for us to answer to ourselves. What is your space like? How is today different than the last? Are you inspired? Frustrated? We closed our eyes, focused on our work, and then the day was done.

Cocktail hour – Lizzie asked who was first to head down for drinks and playing J I was there immediately. All I had come to the colony for was to socialize. Kristina (Kira’s character) was also an earlier arrival, and so we started talking. She was a composer with a private cabin in the garden of the colony, and seemed of a like mind to do more socializing that actual work.

After hours – Lizzie collectively gave us the choice to sit out at the veranda, go skinny dipping in the pool, or party in someone’s personal quarters. The group decided what to do, then Lizzie set the stage and we played from there.

Thoughts on the game

Lizzie was playtesting the game so we played a very truncated version. The whole thing in just over an hour. Because of that many of the scenes were very short. Her plan was for this to be a 3-4 hour LARP and I think in that time much deeper relationships would be created. She also mentioned that she wanted to see if we felt the monotony of doing the same thing every day, but personally, especially with changing character half way through, I was on my toes the whole time.

Jason played a remorselessly angry and self-loathing Alexander. He hated all of us openly, but would never have opened up in the context of the game. I think for this very reason, there was a mechanic called the *fist bump*. In the middle of a conversation one person would fist bump another, and then instead of speaking in character to each other, they gave their inner monologue the the audience, even though the audience was usually just the other person. I used fist bumping a lot in the game and it was especially meaningful with Alexander, because both of us put on fronts and both of us hated ourselves. Albeit for different reasons, and different fronts, but it was great to see behind the curtains. Just like John Stavropoulos’s “What is your character thinking/feeling right now?” question, the fist bump created a new tension that the players where aware of each other’s feelings, but the characters weren’t.

Sex, for me at least, was  big part of the game. J had sex with Kristina the first night and after that, was glued to her. She was a drug for him. The fact that she took other men back to her cabin to have sex on her piano as well didn’t matter. After that first night he felt liberated, and on the second day, he had the courage to write a story about Beatrice that he truly thought was honest, which made him elated. A lot of that excitement was drawn from my own experiences of connecting with new people. In my personal case it isn’t usually sexual, but the excitement of sharing something with someone is intense. I don’t think it’s necessarily (or even often) transformative, but it feels like it is in the moment.


Actual Play – Always/Never/Now (8/15/2013)

always-never-nowGM: Will Hindmarch
Players: Sean Nittner, Kevin, Aaron, and Jason
System: Always/Never/Now

YUP! My first game at GenCon was A/N/N with it’s creator and all around awesome dude Will Hindmarch!

The gaming group were all new to me and thanks to Games on Demand awesome organization, all came ready to try out something new. Kevin had never role-played before but hopped right into gear. Jason and Aaron came together but were totally game to interact with everyone at the table (as I found out early on).

I really like playing in games that people have run multiple times before. I’m finding this as I run the Torchbearer scenario “Under the House of the Three Squires” over and over, that the more I know it, the smoother my descriptions are and the more confident I feel as the players throw out awesome ideas and I respond in kind. Will is definitely a zen GM of this game. His opening description through to his closing finish were all off the cuff, natural, and engaging.

I played Tank, because I love chicks with technical toys. One of my Keys (behavior that grants XP in the game) was that of camaraderie, and so I had to pick another player at the table that I had a strong relationship with. I took a bit of a gamble and chose Henri, played by Aaron. He was sitting across the table from me I know from experience that one-sided relationships like “hey, my character feels XYZ about your character” are not always reciprocated in con games with people that don’t know you, who are sitting across the table next to their friend. Aaron was awesome though.

We had this great opening scene of attaching a cyber leg to this malnourished kid in Ethiopia. A place we operated illegally out of , but Henri was still trying to do good with his life and Tank had his back. The scene where we air lifted off and the were waved away by the family and the kid, now standing on his cyber-leg, was great.

700The play is the thing

I don’t want to talk too much about the adventure since, even more so than Lady Blackbird, A/N/N really has a story line associated with it. As the description of the game says:

You were the best. Underground, cyberpunk street samurai, burglars and breakers, agents of a mysterious spymaster with half a name, zero history, and a plan. He made the missions and you carried them out. You were the go-to crew for high-stakes break-ins, dangerous ops, and impossible escapes. You fought the megacorps, the tyrants, the killers—all for the sake of making a better future, of beating the Technocrats at their own game of shaping tomorrow. You always won, never quit, lived in the now. 

Until, eleven years ago, he disappeared…

Now he’s back—back in trouble—and it’s up to you to save him and maybe, along the way, change the world.

What I particularly enjoyed about the game was that it set you up with the right expectations. Your first lead doesn’t take you to your old spymaster, but you do learn something about him. Your second doesn’t either, but you’re not expecting it too. I think managing expectations in spy/investigation games is critical. Too often players want to figure out a clever solution to short circuit the investigation and get stymied when they can’t find the answer right now. I think part of this is because many investigations present themselves as simple questions (like “who done it?”) and hyper-competent player characters are legitimately frustrated when their amazing skills only lead them to the next bread crumb in a seemingly endless trail.

A/N/N presents the protagonists as hyper-competent professionals, who never-the-less, are confronted with challenges that have the financial and tactical resources to give them a legitimate challenge. This is conveyed in the fiction clearly, so it’s satisfying when it’s represented in the mechanics.

Thoughts on this game

Alex, played by Jason, was hysterical. His character was so comical that when we rose up and was about to do something super bad ass, I drove off god damn cliff to make that bad ass thing happen!

Four arms are better than two. Especially when two of them are cyber-arms.

Henri’s code of non-violence was broken is the most bad ass way!

Games on Demand was loud for sure, but not so much so that we couldn’t all hear the awesome at our table. Great times!

Actual Play – The Battle for Kommerscheidt (8/6/2011)

GM: Jason Morningstar
Players: Sean Nittner, Karen Twelves, Steve Segedy, Rich Rogers, John and Paul Lyons
System: The Regiment (see more on John’s blog)

The short version (via Karen Twelves): We rolled poorly, almost died, then rolled well and stole a tank. Done! =P

The Long version