What weird indie game should I run at GASPcon?

edited August 2009 in Story Games
I ask of you, dear reader: What game should I run at a con I've never been to?

Jason (a guy we played Polaris with for a while) is trying to convince me to go run something at GASPcon (local con run by the Gaming Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania). He wants to have a bigger presence of small press/indie rpgs/story games/etc. That's a reasonable goal, in my mind, and so I'd like to support that plan.

Now, I've never attended this con before nor even a GASP meeting. But the con is right here in Pittsburgh, so the worst that happens is I waste a weekend and am out some admission fees if the con sucks. But it means I don't know what to expect of the con atmosphere or anything... looking at the GASP website, it seems like there is a lot of very traditional roleplaying happening at GASP, with Jason and maybe some others promoting the sort of weird indie games I'd be running. (GASP and the con do not appear to be terribly LARP-friendly, or I might run one.) I can't tell from reading the website if I still get my con attendance refunded if no players show up for a game I plan to run. I need to run at least two four hour sessions to get a GM refund.

On the other end of the equation, I have played a fair number of "story games" (or whatever the cool kids are calling them these days) but not a huge number. And I've GMed even fewer. Ideally, I'd want something easy to GM.

Mainly, I'm being indecisive and trying to gauge what people would actually be interested in seeing. Yeah, I know, you're unlikely to be at the con, but I really just want someone else's input to help make a decision.

Games I'd Consider Running:

Games I've Read But Not Played or Run:

The Shab-Al Hiri Roach
Don't Rest Your Head (Apparently someone else is running this already.)

Games I have Played but not GMed:

Dogs in the Vineyard
Lacuna Part One: The Creation of the Mystery and the Girl from Blue City
Polaris GMless, which means it's easier to run, though still hard to explain.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron munchausen Also GMless, and easier to explain to boot.

Games I have Actually Successfully GMed:

Executive Decision Has the advantages of having been run before, having been successful and having been easy to GM. At this point, the most likely game for me to run.
Bloody Forks of the Ohio, though I ran it heavily modified. Would it being local history help the game's popularity?
Otherkind (not sure if that link works... stupid web filter.) I might just dump the elves and fantasy and use the core system to run something else, like you see in GHOST/ECHO. Maybe just run Ghost/Echo itself.
Unknown Armies Jailbreak, a scenario about convicted felons escaping out of jail and possibly into somewhere much worse. Is Unknown Armies really story-game-y enough, though?

Games I have failed Repeatedly to GM:
Any other Unknown Armies games.

Games I Wrote Myself and Therefore Are Unlikely to Attract Players:

House of Masks won an award in last year's Game Chef, but I've never gotten to play it myself. Six players play three characters with conflicting goals, using a unique number free conflict resolution system.
Department Nine, actually got playtested three or so times, and was a lot of fun. It's a science fiction/espionage/classical Greek tragedy/comedy game where you play agents of the mythological Fates, but are fighting against your own prophesied future.

I suppose I could run something else, too, if someone were to suggest a good idea. There are a ton of interesting games out there to run; this was mainly sticking to the ones I have on hand and have read thoroughly enough to consider them as options. I am currently leaning toward Executive Decision and one or two other games. What other games? Is there some compelling reason not to run Executive Decision? What game should I run?


  • Posted By: Mr. TeapotBloody Forks of the Ohio, though I ran it heavily modified. Would it being local history help the game's popularity?
    Do this. If I were still in Pittsburgh, I would fight ten men to sign up for your game.

    I remember a time when I was watching Brotherhood of the Wolf. There is a scene at the beginning where the Chevalier is introducing his Indian companion to his French peers, and he talks about how they fought together "at the Battle of Three Rivers." A cheer went up in the theater (the one on Murray, near the top of the Squirrel Hill commercial strip). Pittsburghers love Pittsburgh. You can harness that spirit!
  • Hey, I'll probably go to GASPCon; I went last year and it was a pretty good time. I spent a lot of time playing pick-up Traveller with my brother, and we roped in some guys to play with us, which was fun. I also ran Ganakagok, and played some In A Wicked Age. Jason ran a few playtests of his The Fifth World and had good attendance; my brother and I actually bailed before it started because the table was too crowded. So you might get some interest in your games. The GASPers seem to be a pretty trad-heavy group, so there's not a lot of familiarity with indie games, as far as I could tell last year. So you might get some mileage out of running a "Game Chef Award Winning!" game.

    I've used Executive Decision in the classroom and my students think it's fun; for me it's work. But it practically runs itself; I break my class up into separate groups, each playing a cabinet facing the same situation (in a parallel universe, I guess), and make one student in each group be the President.

    I'd like to see Shab-al-Hiri Roach or Polaris on the schedule; that would be cool, too.
  • Posted By: ccreitz the theater (the one on Murray, near the top of the Squirrel Hill commercial strip).
    My bus takes me past that theatre every day.
    Pittsburghers love Pittsburgh. You can harness that spirit!
    That's a good argument, right there.
  • Posted By: Bill_WhiteSo you might get some mileage out of running a "Game Chef Award Winning!" game.
    The bigest problem is that that game needs exactly six players at the moment, which does not mesh well with the unpredictable quality of a convention. Will I have too few players? too many?

    The info on games that have been run before is helpful and illuminating. I'm beginning to get an idea what I have gotten myself into.
  • Posted By: Mr. TeapotPosted By: ccreitzthe theater (the one on Murray, near the top of the Squirrel Hill commercial strip).
    My bus takes me past that theatre every day. 61C for life!

    Seriously, it would be a damn shame to pass up the cheap pop you'd get by running Bloody Forks of the Ohio a stone's throw away from the titular bloody forks. Bring a Terrible Towel, wear your pickle pin, say "yinz", and pander shamelessly. You'll fill your table, no sweat.
  • I'd run Lacuna myself, but that might just be because I'm in the middle of a really kick-ass series of games using it right now.

    Still, I think it's a perfect fit for the con game format and plenty of fun for all.
  • I'm of two minds, myself.

    One mind says run something you, yourself, are really, really excited about and love to run. Write up a killer pitch (we can help) for the program and actively recruit people to play. This is the best way to have a great session in an unknown environment. You'll be confident, you'll have a good time, your enthusiasm will be contagious.

    The other mind says run something you know people are dying to try and that fills a niche. On your list Dogs in the Vineyard seems to be the obvious choice - it's a popular game that people will probably be interested in trying, it runs well with 1-4 players, it's emblematic of a certain style of game and play.
  • Lacuna is GM-centric, which, I find, goes down well with more traditional players. It's a superb con game.

    Dogs is good, too.

    My sure-fire con hit is Poison'd.

  • Posted By: GrahamLacuna is GM-centric, which, I find, goes down well with more traditional players.
    My worry is that Lacuna is GM-centic and therefore won't go down well with me. I've never GMed it before, but my feeling is that the GM has to do a good job conveying mood and tone, and I don't know if I could manage that.
  • Hello! I'm Jason (as in the "Jason (a guy we played Polaris with for a while) is trying to convince me..." of the OP).

    I agree with Colin, and personally, I'd love another chance to play Bloody Forks (surgery the day after stopped me from joining the last time Nick ran it). But my brother's going to run an In a Wicked Age anthology (three chapters, one each day of the con), reprising the "Three Rivers Oracle" I wrote up last year. I need to do some tweaking, but it gives you a sword & sorcery tone in Pittsburgh 1,000 years ago, with the last giants of the Allegwi dying out, mounds binding their ancient magic, and everywhere Cahokia trying to infiltrate and expand its influence. I don't think both would be too much local flavor, but if you don't want to do Bloody Forks, you don't have to worry about local interests being under-represented.

    I also agree with Bill, I'd love to see "Game Chef Award Winning!" printed up in the schedule.

    GASP is generally pretty traditional, but we've got some "indie-curious," and folks willing to try new things. I also hope to line up enough people at this year's GASPcon to attract an indie crowd. So, if you live within driving distance of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, certain parts of New York or Kentucky), keep it in mind!
  • Bloody Forks is looking to be very likely. Now I have to figure out if that means the Morningstar version or the version we used for the LARP repurposed back to tabletop play...
  • I wound up submitting Bloody Forks, Executive Decision and Department Nine. I'm pretty pleased with those choices, though I think I'll have to go back to redesign Department nine some in the next few months.
  • My Love for You is Way Out of Line

  • So Gaspcon finally happened, and two of my three games didn't have enough people attend to actually run. This wasn't a big surprise: early on in the registration process Bloody Forks filled up but Department Nine and Executive Decision didn't. One guy signed up to play Executive Decision, but you need a few more people to play the cabinet, you know? He was interested in it as a tool for teaching history, so I sent him to the game's website to download, and later he played in my not-terribly-historically-accurate Bloody Forks game.

    Full report on the Bloody Forks game is available, if you want to know how it went.
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