Actual Play – The Queen of Fashion (7/6/2018)

Facilitator: Sean Nittner
Players: Krin Irvine, Ben Swinden, Cara Simian, and Isaac Thummel
System: For the Queen

Our very first question set the tenor of your entire game.

“This journey isn’t just about diplomatic negotiations. What else do you suspect is going on, and why?”

Answer – A war of fashion. If the enemy is better dressed then we are, our reputation will crumble and thereafter the support of our allies.

To be told I didn’t think this would be a serious game, until we answered more questions and realized JUST how important fashion was, and how much telling a person what they could and couldn’t wear controlled a part of who they were. If felt like a threat to our freedom than resonates very strongly with me in 2018.

The land you live in has been at war for as long as any of you have been alive.
The Queen has decided to set off on a long and perilous journey to forge an alliance with a distant power.
She has chosen you, and only you, to serve as her retinue, and accompany her on this journey.
She chose you because she knows that you love her.

Our roles end up being the queens body double (who tried on all her dresses first), the old servant (who too the fall when the Queen attempeted to introduce snaps into fashion), the guard (scarred and dressed all in the queens purple), the zealot (who would bring buckles to the masses), and her seamstress (who the queen kept closer than any other).

Following the last game I played, I encouraged us to play in the the golden fields of the Great War, with similar primitive automobiles. We also had the advent of strict fashion rules and a lot of value placed around an impossible ideal of beauty, both in terms of bodies and in terms of design.

The game was dark, full of sacrifices made for the good of the many. In the end we had to be sacrificed as well. And yet, look at all these smiling faces:

Actual Play – Tales from the Go Play Loop (7/9/2017)

GM: John Powell
Players: Adam Bloom, Hakan Seyalioglu, Vex Godgolve, Dylan Mayo, and Sean Nittner
System: Tales from the Loop

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

In the 80s that never was, we played little kids exploring a world that promised Coca-Cola and delivered Pterodactyls!


  • Stole trucks we couldn’t drive,
  • Faced off bullies that scared us,
  • Lied to our parents, and
  • Trekked through the woods, evading dinosours!

Here’s a great shot of our troublemakers and weirdos:

I have some thoughts about Tales from the Loop game itself, but I’ll share those in another place.


Actual Play – A poisonous Inheritance (7/9/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Lukas Stille, Hakan Seyalioglu, Jamie Fristrom, Morgan Ellis, Kelsa Delphi, Michael Yater, Dan Behlings, Andy Munich,
System: Inheritance

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

This game was the one that made me wonder what the hell I was doing ever playing tabletop games. It was so brutal and amazing. I did make one mistake however, which was misunderstanding the rules for medicine. It prevents death, but someone grievously wounded is far from hale and healthy immediately after. We would have had several different outcomes if I had known that, but no matter, this was one amazing game.

Things that I remember from way back:

  • Gefyon and Rán being amazing in their plotting.
  • Ansgar, blinded, renewing his faith and gaining the sympathy of others. But now, who would read the will?
  • Ring, finding that Rán did not love him, and in fact loathed him, killing her in the night and then blaming Daxo!
  • The symmetry of the death of Baldr and the death of Rán, and the way it torn the families apart.
  • Aurvandil, tempted by the Christian God.
  • The summoning of Odins will on the beach to bring Ring strength… all for naught
  • So many children lost. Some of the survivors broken-hearted, some vindicated.

Here are some great shots from the game:

Daxo and Rán hatch their plan

Ring and Gefjon entreat Odin for Strength

Ring, betrayed by Rán, lashes out.

Two warriors, no longer brothers.

Our Cast

The Fallen

Actual Play – Band of Blades (7/8/2017)

GM: Stras Acimovic
Players: Allison Arth, John Harper, John LeBoeuf-Little, and Sean Nittner
System: Band of Blades

In one of it’s first public appearances, Stras ran Band of Blades of us. So good! This is one of the Stretch Goals games that came from the Blades in the Dark Kickstarter. Band of Blades is dark fantasy game in the vein of The Black Company. You play soldiers trying to retreat safely back to a stronghold, while perceptually fighting off the advancing armies of the Cinder King. HOT!

Note: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

Here’s my memory of the game:

  • I played a rookie who made dumb rookie mistakes but somehow survived till the end.
  • John played a sniper who was not at all about taking risks we didn’t have to. When Landgave survived though, she proved herself to him and later they infiltrated the city of undead together!
  • Allison played a leader that GOT SHIT DONE and suffered no fools.
  • John L.L. had some magical powers that won the day and was the only one to care if Landgrave (my rookie) lived or died.
  • The undead were endless in their hunger and malice, but thankfully not always aware of our presence.
  • Mystical forces were at work that I understanded not at all.
  • I ended up playing Private Pyre (when Landgrave was lost) and he ended up with the “Gomer Pyre” voice affectation, which I had way too much fun with.
  • At some point, we were on top of a building, got a partial success and instead of gunning down down the monster below us, it scrambled all the way to the top grabbed Landgrave, and crashed back down to the ground with him before it died. Then everyone pulled her out!
  • We each had rolls (Marshall, Warden, Commander) that got to make macro level decisions, one of those things was to have spilled the blood of the chosen over our blades, granting the power of black-shot (which destroyed undead).
  • We had a choice of missions and went for an assault – assassinate a speaker. He channeled the Blighter!

Pics from the Game

We had so much fun playing this game! On Sunday when I saw Stras running another game of it I stood up on a table and called out to them “For the Legion!”.


Actual Play – A lovelorn Inheritance (7/8/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Adrienne Mueller, Johnstone Mezger, Vex Godglove, Adam Bloom, Jeremy Tidwell, Stras Acimovic, Ross Cowman, Kathryn Hymes, and Andi Carrison.
System: Inheritance

Note that applies to the next six months of Actual Play reports: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

This was the scheduled game. Some of the highlights that remember:

  • Fulla, punctuating her description of the meal she was serving to interrupt the hostility brewing!
  • Gefyon making a mess in the feasting hall and throwing her drink aside, perhaps afraid it has been poisoned!
  • Ran and Aurvandil like Pyramus and Thisbe speaking through the crack in the door at night, sharing their affections for each other.
  • Ran then going to the bed she shared with her mother and father, and hatching a plan to marry her.
  • Tyr, speaking with Gefyon and admitting that she made him a wiser man, and that even if he could not fathom her reasons, he would heed her omens.
  • Daxo, maimed by Aurvandil and left bleeding but alive, for his sins.
  • Mighty Thorvald, blind and deaf to the words of Daxo.

Intent reading and preparation

Lovers speaking through the doorway

Daxo maimed on the beach by his once boon companion

Our final cast shot…with me too!

This game was so good!



Actual Play – A tragic Inheritance (7/8/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Andrew Adams, Michael Yater, Manny Sholz, Alice Grizzle, Steve Nix, Alex Cooley, Zac Bond, Cara S. M.
System: Inheritance

Note that applies to the next six months of Actual Play reports: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

I put a game of Inheritance on the forum and it filled up super quick so I thought, maybe, just maybe we’d have enough interest for another one. Wowza, yes! And another one. And one that Adam ran. And one that Kelsa ran. Dang, this game is that good!

Sad, wonderful memories of this game:

  • Patient and kind Ansgar, slain for his “meddling”.
  • Fulla trying so hard to keep her husband and her sons at peace… and watching it all fall apart.
  • Gefyon, speaker of Odin, her words like a noose that tightened around her husband Tyr’s neck.
  • Daxo, having slain his brother, no longer permitted to keep his name. He would be Ring now and marry Ran as ring was supposed to. Never again would the name Daxo be spoken.

Our cast:

Those who fell:

What Rocked

  • Players SO excited to play this game.
  • Steve, making the choice to take Ring’s name when he could have just killed everyone left standing.
  • Zac’s heartache as Fulla as she confessed to Throvald that she converted, and his stoic resolve to hear none of it.
  • Gefyon’s palpable malice and the way it put her quickly at odds Fulla!


Actual Play – King County Ghost Court (7/7/2017)

Players: Me, Alice, and many other silly humans and ghosts.
System: Ghost Court

Note that applies to the next six months of Actual Play reports: I fell way behind on my AP reports so these are written many moons later based off my notes. The accuracy will likely vary greatly! Also, this is just transcribed from my notes. Things may be out of order!

Before Go Play this year I asked Tony what would be useful for some Go Play veterans to do so that we could help folks get into more games. He said “run lots of games in the donut” so that was our plan! Even better, running BIG games in the donut. I started with Ghost Court, and though the pictures don’t show it, I think we had 15+ players. Woot!

I had fun playing my usually sassy judges (including wig worn backwards) and then shuffling out to let other, more qualified justices serve in my stead. This game was a hoot and I think we made it through half the cases before adjourning!

Actual Play – Atlas Reckoning (7/10/2016)

Atlas ReckoningGM: Stras Acimovic
Players: Lucian Smith, Tomer Gurantz, Ross Cowman, and Sean Nittner
System: Atlas Reckoning

I almost missed this game. Stupidly, stupidly, I almost missed it. Stras specifically offered it in the only slot I didn’t have a game so I could play it (as I had asked him to run it for me before). I gave Stras this half-ass “maybe” answer because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to geek out about cons with Jonh Powel, or have a late dinner, or otherwise just relax after all the great games.

In the middle of dinner though, my senses came back to me. I had asked Stras to run Atlas. He was running it in a slot I could play in. I WANTED TO PLAY THIS GAME. I AM VERY GLAD I PLAYED THIS GAME.


Because he’s a genious, Stras starts the game off by telling everyone we’re going to pilot giant mecha to fight off some threat. And we all, understanding modern science know that using giant robots is probably not the most cost efficient or effective way to do anything, but that is what this game is about, so the game starts off asking:

What is the thing which threaten humanity and why are giant fighting robots the only way to stop it?

It’s baked right into the game. Before we even start playing we, as players, have invested in why we’ell be doing this thing.  There are a couple of other questions, but those were the big ones for me. In our case water levels had rises and most of humanity was underwater. The kaiju that attacked us would irradiate any place they died in, if not for the Atlas core engine that could absorb the energy as it bled out of the. YES!

Character Creation

There are a lot of playbooks that look exactly how you’d expect them to. The Rookie, The Scientist, The Engineer, and The Hotshot are the ones we picked. Each playbook has it’s own moves (as would be expected) but they also have moves tied to how they fight in an Atlas. Some lean towards offensive builds, some towards defensive, and some towards tactical. Within each of those trees, there are special abilities that reinforce the theme.

I could tell already that Stras took some of the principles from Apocalypse World when developing the game but specifically dialed the focus back so that the character was not the entire focal point of the game. The characters relationship with their fellow pilot, the Atlas itself, and the world they were saving were all integral parts of the game. So much love for all of this.

We had the grandson of the creator of an atlas. A hotshot pilot who was a genetic experiment and her much more cerebral daughter, and the rookie Kevin, who just made it onto the team.

Atlas Creation

It’s like gun porn without counting the bullets. Each Atlas could be equipped with various sensors, defensive equipment, and, weapons, each of which had cool mechanical effects when used in play. They could even be doubled down on for more delicious goodness.

When all the goodies were picked, the two pilots (a Atlas must have two pilots who’s brains are synced during the piloting) simultaneously said one word, and combining those we got the name of our Atlas. Ross and I piloted “Dagger Dragon”. Sweet!

2016-07-10 20.18.48Kicking off the game

The game starts with all us doing our opening montage. Describing our characters. What we do, what the base looks like, how we interact with others. Then the alarms go off and we suit up, which is another montage of how we get inside our Atlas and in our case out into the water!

The sync

This part is super cool and I’d like to see more of it throughout the game. Each pilot that shares a mech draws a hand of cards (normal playing cards) and then passes two cards to their co-pilot. Without talking then each pilot plays a card. If the card does not match at all they have no sycn. If the cards match in color only (back or red) they have weak sync, if the cards match in suit they have normal sync, and if the number of the cards match, they get strong sync! This effects how much you can do with your mech once you get out there and start fighting.

Also, possibly more importantly, whichever of the two pilots plays the highest card gets to ask the their co-pilot a questions based on the suit of the card. The question is answered by a memory that is shared between the two pilots as they sync. So many damn feels here. I love it!

Fighting monsters

The card mechanic of the game is more complicated that I can capture now but hands down it’s one of the more extensive and well thought out card mechanics I’ve seen for representing tactical combat maneuvers. Between the cards themselves, our own moves, special equipment on the Atlas, and the monsters special abilities…. wow, there is so much there. And none of it feels clunky!

We finished off our foe talking only minimal stress to ourselves and bringing our fighting robots back in tact. We didn’t kill the tentacle monster as quickly as we could though because I, playing the hotshot, held off a moment so I could deliver the killing blow, and earn a new move for my shenanigans!


Back at the base, each player picks a location like sick bay, the war room, engineering, etc. and frames a scene there. They have a few questions about the location they have to answer, which helps flesh out the world, and they are also rewarded for taking certain acts (like lashing out at someone for no good reason) by either allowing them to recover stress, gain additional cards in a future fight, or otherwise tend to their narrative and mechanical needs. Since each player in each scene can satisfy different requirements, the game encourages players to frame scenes with each other so everyone can benefit from them. This remind me a lot of the recover phase in Agon, Downtime in Blades in the Dark, and Player turns/Camp in Mouse Guard/Torchbearer. Go figure Stras has some awesome sources of inspiration!

We ended the game with downtime complete, and all of us ready to go back into the fray, even though we knew some pretty grim things about each other…and the monsters we were fighting.

What Rocked

A whole heck of a lot, but specifically:

  • The Sync mechanic. I want to see more of this!
  • Building your Atlas. Gearing it out, picking your moves and your focus.
  • The fight mechanics were fantastic. Lots of really great options for different styles of play.
  • The character focus into offensive, tactical, and defensive options, which all led to cool moves. Most notably the defensive moves didn’t just negate attacks/damage, which is how they usually work in a lot of games and is also why I never take them, because negation is super boring.
  • The artwork and graphic design for the Atlas. There is a lot of information there and it’s displayed really clearly!
  • The feels! Asking each other deep dark secrets as the way you power your Atlas is fucking awesome. So good.
  • Our character tension. I felt like even in a fighting game I had a lot of personal investment in the other characters. My co-pilot the Rookie wanted to impress me. My daughter the scientist was avoiding me, and her co-pilot the engineer infuriated me so much I almost broke his jaw because he was paying attention to the tech instead of the fight at hand and had put my daughter in danger because of it! Good stuff.

What could have improved

  • Like a lot of games in development, play was very paper heavy. A sheet for our characters, a sheet for out Atlas. A sheet with how the various equipment works, and a sheet for every location we could frame scenes in. I think this is natural part of game development and as you play more and more, you figure out how you can run with fewer pieces of paper on the table at any one time.
  • Tomer pointed out that downtime presented too many options to try and capture and that a starting mission might benefit from a truncated version where there were few options available until the players became acclimated to the game.
  • Ever since talking to Ross about component based design, I keep looking at games and wonder how they components could improve play. In this case I think there as specifically things like having cards for equipment that can be placed in specific slots so its clear what fits where, as well as linking some of the moves to physical components so that their effects were visible on the table. I really, really want Stras and Ross to sit down together over this because I think that Ross could take this beautiful system Stras has created and make it even more accessible to players.

2016-07-10 20.36.27

I really want to play this game over and over. Like a lot. As soon as we were done with the mission I was like, lets do it gain! I had the same kind of enthusiasm for it that I did when I played Dungeons & Dragons in high school. I just wanted to keep playing and see what happened. I wanted to learn mastery over the mechanism. I wanted to find out more secrets. More, more, more, more!

Actual Play – Dying for a Cup of Coffee (7/10/2016)

#FeminismFacilitator: Sean Nittner
Players: Julie Southworth, Jackson Tegu, Kathryn Hymes, and Hakan Seyalioglu
System: #Feminism Nano-Games

The #Feminism anthology is an awesome book. It has a beautiful layout done by Shuo Meng that begs you to flip through it and uncover these easy-to-digest, fun-to-read, nano games written by feminists through a feminist lens. Of particular note, each of the games are one to two pages long, have an intensity rating (one to five), and show their estimated length (all an hour or less).

Cool as all these game are, I was a bit nervous facilitating them. Many of them, even the lowest intensity games, are intimately about women’s lives and women’s experiences. I was doubting if I could, as a cis-man, facilitate these games well, and should I even be running them? Go Play NW seemed like a really good place to find out though, so I put it on the schedule and was delighted to see it fill up quickly with wonderful people I already knew and loved.

Games we Played

Here were the games we played in order. Three games but since once of them had three games within it, I’m calling it five!

Mentioning the Unmentionables by Kajsa Greger (Sweden)
Three games about the anatomy of women. (Dances with Vulva, Dying for a Cup of Coffee, and Just Put Some Salt on It)
3–5 players; 60 minutes; Intensity 3/5.

Tropes vs. Women by Ann Eriksen (Denmark)
Explore well-known movie clichés and tropes about women in a fun and not too serious way.
3–5 players; 20 minutes; Intensity 1/5.

First Date by Katrin Førde (Norway)
A game about a date gone wrong and a rant about the orgasm gap.
2–5 players; 30 mins; Intensity 1/5.

What Rocked

Everyone was fantastic about jumping in and trying these games with an open mind. Just Put Some Salt on It in particular sparked a lot of conversation during and after the game. It did a wonderful job of normalizing menstruation and as we played through it over and over (five scenes that were two minutes long and then 10 more scenes that were each 20 seconds long), something that started as embarrassing or taboo quickly became either a totally normal accident or something that would become a funny (funny positive, not funny shameful or demeaning ) story afterward.

Because many of these games had us play out the same scenes over and over, some of the reincorporation we had was amazing. The Tough Mudders, the Investments, the students noticing a smudge on their graded papers. All inside baseball I know, but very entertaining and normalizing in the moment.

The games for the most part fit in a freeform larp space. Several of them were set around the table so we sat at the table where we started, but if they called us to stand up and walk away from the table at the end (as in First Date and Dying for a Cup of Coffee did) then it was very natural to do so. I think this was in part because of our location. Campion Hall (where Go Play Northwest was hosting game this year) has all these nooks and crannies where you can game. Our game was around the corner from Monster Draft but secluded enough that we didn’t feel like getting up, moving around, or using the couch behind us was disrupting other games. Nor did we feel self conscious about the games content. It was just a great place to play in.

Among a small group of people, all of which either knew either other well and/or felt comfortable discussing their own content and touch boundaries, our negotiations of appropriate topics and level of physical contact was exceptional. Several times I noticed that before contact was made, permission was asked, and we talked frequently about the content of the games as we played them. We hat lots and lots of little mini debriefs (which were specifically called out in the games), which was great for doing course correction as we played more games.

What could have improved

I read some of the “secret” games before we played them because I wanted to be transparent about the content. I wish I hadn’t. There aren’t any big content reveals and the twists are great.

First Date…wow, that game is marked as intensity 1/5 but wow did we all feel terrible after playing the ranter. Of all the games it was the one we needed the most assurance that we weren’t terrible people afterward.

2016-07-10 15.49.49-3

Looking forward to playing more #Feminism nano-games at Gen Con!

Actual Play – Cube Draft (7/10/2016)

635032483553343396Players: Ross Cowman, Sean Nittner, Jonathan Tweet, Tony Dowler, Harry Lee, Brendan Adkins, Christian Griffen, and Miles Gaborit.
System: Magic ’95 Cube Draft (1 of each card printed up through 1995).

(Note: this wasn’t an RPG, but since I’m documenting all my GPNW games, I putting this one in for posterity).

Ross and I had been talking at Origins about Magic and how I enjoyed the game but years ago had to quit because it was a complete money pit for me. Despite not playing it ages though, I still felt a hankering for my old decks. The sweet combos, the crazy acceleration, the wicked comebacks. Augh… so good.

I’m not sure if it was because the discussion left him with a hankering for it, or if he just wanted to deliver my birthday present early, but Ross put up a 95 Cube draft on the Go Play schedule. For those not familiar (I wasn’t until I looked it up):

Cube Draft is a casual Magic: The Gathering format where players create a cube, a large pool of cards selected for the purposes of playing a limited game.

In this case, the cube was every cart that had been printed up till 1995. Lots of proxies in here (Ross isn’t swimming in Moxen) but he had nearly all those early cards from back when some things were very, very broken.

If you’re curious about what drafting from this deck is like, check out his Cube Tutor.

The Draft

I was pretty overwhelmed, I gotta admit. In my first three pulls I got a Royal Assassin, Hypnotic Specter, and Mox Jet. Shortly after that I grabbed an Underground River and some sweet blue control. But then I just floundered. Black and blue is a particular favorite of mine, but I wasn’t seeing any counters (Tony had grabbed them all) and soon I was dipping all over the place. By the time I got to making my deck I was into four colors and realized I had made a terrible mistake.

But, just the same, I had some mana acceleration (thank you green), and a couple tricks that might serve me well.

The Games

My first two games were against Ross. Not my best bet. He whooped my butt and too both my Psionic Blast and my Royal Assassin. May black and blue tears over here. He rolled out a Lord of the Pit with Circle of Protection Black, a Spirit Link and Lich. LICH! Yikes.

My final game (our time ran out so fast) was against Tony and I narrowly one only because Juggernaut can’t be blocked by walls. Tony was rocking the blue (that’s where all my counters went) and had me locked down for a while. Eventually though the Demonic Hordes + Instill Energy gave me land advantage. Tony was drawing plenty of it up (because of Land Tax) but I was destroying two per turn. I think I was down to 2 life and maybe as many minutes before lunch where Juggernaut finally did it’s job.

What Rocked

Despite being really unfamiliar with the card set, the whole drafting process was a blast. There was a lot of laughs about amazingly good and amazingly bad cards and just a whole ton of nostalgia. Thanks so much for making this happen Ross!

What could have improved

Playing a little totally wired my brain of for doing it more. I could have totally played another four hours or more but there was lunch and the #Feminism games to play!