Thursday, 13 August 2009

A simple SKETCH-based Gen Con Game for you

Below is a game I wrote for the 2009 UK Games Expo - the organisers of the convention were kind enough to print the game in their event programme and allowed me to offend many people. Good on 'em!

I've put it here for those of you attending Gen Con this weekend (you gits!) and I hope you have fun with it.


IT’S A CON!

An Unconventional Roleplaying Game about Unconventional Conventions

By Jonathan Hicks

IT’S A CON! was a very small roleplaying game using an even lighter version of Farsight Game’s SKETCH system designed especially for the UK Games Expo. The aim of the game is simple – create a convention attendee and get through the day without falling foul of stress brought on by losing games, being frowned at by your peers or having comments made about your personal hygeine. All you’ll need to play is a single six-sided die (you’re at Gen Con – you’ll find one somewhere!). Although this is a roleplaying game you don’t really need a GM to play.

First of all, you have to create your convention attendee. An attendee has six areas of expertise:

RPGs – Your ability to play tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Traveller.
Wargames – Your ability and expertise at wargames such as Warhammer.
Video Games – Your skill and knowledge in handheld, console and PC games.
Card Games – Your skill and knowledge in card games such as Magic: The Gathering.
Fan Boy – Your knowledge and love of a single iconic person of a game, book TV show or movie, such as an author, actor or designer.
Personal Grooming – Your personal hygeine, appearance and general fashion sense.

The attendee is given the numbers 1 through to 6 to put in each area of expertise – this means that he can have a 1 in one group, 2 in another, 3 in another and so on up to 6. As the day goes on, the attendee will be subject to each of the five different areas of expertise. The number in their area of expertise is what the player has to roll or less on a six-sided die to succeed. So remember: during attendee creation, the higher the number in the area the better the attendee is!

Each attendee is also given a STRESS level of zero. This is zero at the start of the day, when they are fresh and ready to face the gaming challenges ahead with dice bag, minitaures case, card deck or autograph book in hand, secure in the knowledge that they are an expert in their chosen field. Go, convention attendee, go!

If you’re playing IT’S A CON! as a full-on roleplaying game with other gamers and a GM then you can try to bluff your way through – if you can spout a convincing line about the area of expertise you’re playing in, with convincing details on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, then the other players may give you a bonus on your number in the area of expertise you’re rolling against to help you make the roll.

Each time an attendee fails a roll their STRESS level goes up by one point. If the STRESS level ever gets to 6 then they stress out – see the STRESSED OUT! table at the end of the game to see what happens to your attendee.
After each roll in the area of expertise, the player also has to roll against their Personal Grooming – if they fail, their STRESS level goes up by another one point! Not only that, but every time you roll against Personal Grooming, that particular area of expertise goes down by 1 point to a minimum of 1 - walking around a hot crowded convention hall or sitting at a tense, sweat-inducing gaming table can do all kinds of nasty things to glands as the day wears on, and having people making such remarks as ‘are the drains backed up?’ to you can send your blood pressure through the roof.

GEN CON 2009

So, the day begins. This is hobby heaven. The doors open. Gamers, collectors and fans flood through the doors, all peeling off in different directions, searching out their chosen hobby like fun-seeking missiles.
Into this maelstrom steps your attendee. Ready for action. Dice in one pocket, cards in another and deodarant in the bumbag. Get stuck in!

The RPG table – Your attendee sits at the gaming table, ready to dive into their favourite roleplaying game, be it D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller or whatever. Roll your RPGs expertise!
Success means a pat on the back and comments such as ‘you’re what this game is all about’.
Failure means looks of confusion and comments such as ‘So this is your first time playing, yeah?’
Now roll against your Personal Grooming.

The Wargaming table – The table is ready, the armies are prepared and your opponent glares at you with the eyes of a master tactician… roll your Wargames expertise!

Success means a reluctant handshake from your defeated opponent and a murmur of ‘yeah, well done.’
Failure means having your victorious opponent standing over your shattered army shouting ‘never, in the field of human conflict, has anyone ever been owned so badly! Owned!’
Now roll against your Personal Grooming.

The Video Games area – Go on, you know you want to… there’s some places where you can have a stab at a free demo of the latest computer games or try an online game. You sit at the keyboard and your fingers turn into blurs. Roll your Video Games expertise!

Success means a huge group of people standing over your shoulder, gesturing others over to your screen with shouts of ‘this guy’s awesome!’
Failure means a screen message saying ‘hi m8, i pwned u loser noob lol’.
Now roll against your Personal Grooming.

The Card Games table – Fancy a stab at Magic: The Gathering? Or some other tactical card game? Then get your deck out and roll against your Card Games expertise!

Success results in looks of awe as tyu lay down your last card, and comments such as ‘dude… you truly have the power’.
Failure gets you a smirk and a box matches. ‘Do yourself a favour, dude… burn ‘em’.
Now roll against your Personal Grooming.

Fan Boy – They’re here! The person you admire the most, be it an actor, author or games designer, is standing in front of you with an expectant smile and an outstretched hand. Can you handle the pressure? Can you talk to this icon, this King of Kings, without losing your nerve and looking stupid. Roll against your Fan Boy expertise!

Success means that you’re wildest dreams come true – the person you look up to the most actually likes you and even offers you some advice on getting into his business with comments such as ‘I can see some of myself in you, kid’.
Failure means a restraining order and an escort to the door.
Now roll against your Personal Grooming.

The day is over… what’s your STRESS level?

If it’s lower than six then you’ve got through the day. You’ve had some ups and downs and a couple of close calls, but you’ve got to the end of the day and you’re satisfied with the outcome. You’ve got some bags of goodies, some great deals and a big smile on your face. Get yourself a pizza and crack open a can of cola – you deserve it.

STRESSED OUT!

If your STRESS level ever reaches 6, then you’ve reached your limits of patience – you’re STRESSED OUT, man! You’ve failed! You can’t handle it! Roll the six-sided die and consult the table below:

1. You go home and cry into your Masters of the Universe pillow.
2. In a daze you walk out the building, down the street, into the local police station and up to the desk, and ask to be locked up for crimes against gaming.
3. You go home, pile up all your gaming stuff and set it alight on a funeral pyre, standing in a Luke Skywalker in ‘Return of the Jedi’ pose as you watch it burn.
4. You leave flaming posts on gamer message forums all over the Internet about why you’re the best at gaming. Then you get banned from each and every one of them.
5. You run through the convention in only your underwear, shouting ‘I’ve wasted my life! Help me! Help me!’
6. You go to the nearest bar and wake up the next day in a garbage skip just outside Alberquerqy.

How did you get on? Did you survive a day of Gen Con? You did?

Are you coming back for the other days?