Help me choose my con games

edited July 2013 in Story Games
Since Vx is going to Ropecon and I'd like to hear him speak, I'm running less games than usual. Sadly, there's no time for me to try games out before the con, three weeks from now. I'd like games with easy learning curves, but with an intense or thought-provoking premise or killer app. The playing time would be from 2 to 4 hours, so no nano games, please.

Kagematsu seems like a good fit, and I'm seriously considering running it. It's got light mechanics, the setting is easy (and inconsequential) enough so that there's no need to prep that, and the premise is intriguing. Even though I haven't played it before, the learning curve seems really simple. I mean: set the scene, play out your drama according to the light mechanics, apply light mechanics. I like that.

Would playing Kagematsu twice in two days be absolutely silly? I'm guessing yes, so I'm interested in similar stuff. I'm wary of Perfect, since it's got loads of goodness setting-wise - if I'm wrong, please correct me.

PDF availability is a bonus, but I've got a lot of books already (some of them unread).

(I've run Monsterhearts, Poison'd, Lady Blackbird and Fiasco in the last two years.)


  • Have you considered Montsegur 1244? It can get very intense. In my experience it leans towards 4 hours play time rather than 2, but still.
  • The Daughters of Verona is similar mechanically, but usually plays in about three hours.
  • edited July 2013
    The excellent Japanese RPG Witch Quest is cute and simple. And it is very playable in two hour sessions, including char-gen.

    And it has some interesting mechanics for such an old game, sure to raise a few eyebrows from those who thought that only indie- wave games could be innovative. :-)
  • Some good options would include Durance (Simple mechanics) or Always/Never/Now (Based on Lady Blackbird). Both could fit that time scale and should be easy to learn.
  • Good recommendations from both of you, thanks! It would be difficult to obtain the latest "Daughters" because of the IPR shipping costs, but I already have Montsegur and Durance. The Montsegur booklet just had disappeared among other thin games. I've been looking for the right chance to play it. This might be it. The game says it's 3-6 hours for 3-6 players. Is it realistic to assume that the game plays out in an hour per player?
  • For Kagematsu to work as intended you'll need one female player. If you are that player yourself and don't mind playing the Kagematsu twice in a row that should work, otherwise that is something to think about pointing out when announcing the game and deciding how often you want to run it in the first place. It is pretty easy to get the game, but if people aren't in the mood or a bit uncomfortable they might just dick around with the mechanics for hilarious results, escalating the situation every game. So that might happen, it did in my first playthrough, still was fun though. I can see the game be different enough each time too.

    Dirty Secrets is similar in that it has one player in the "lead" role. This time as a noir detective. It assumes playing in your hometown but you can just as well play in noir clichee ville or wherever and have it work. The world and the case are created in the game and it certainly can suprise the players. If you have it around it could be worth a look into. Two hours might be a little short for it though.

    Dog Eat Dog has one player as the colonists and the others as natives, again breaking the GM / Player destribution in that way while still having two different roles. The game is good and easy enough to get. But not a feel good game at all.
  • edited July 2013
    I have played Montsegur at 6 players, it took 4-5 hours, including a break or two for coffee.
    However, I think it plays better at 4 or 5.

    The game length is very much dependent on how hard you frame and cut your scenes. If you notice that a game is proceeding too slowly you can reduce the number of scenes in the later acts, or simply tell the players that they need to frame harder, to make the game be finished in time.

    You will probably want to discuss the game for a bit once you've played the last scene. I suggest you aim at ending the game with 20 minutes to spare.
  • edited July 2013
    Have PMd you. I also recommend Witch: The Road to Lindisfarne. I haven't actually run it myself yet but have played in two or three games. It's extremely low-prep, deals with some interesting issues (it has a similar theme to Montsegur 1244), and can (just about) be run in 4 hrs.
  • The excellent Japanese RPG Witch Quest is cute and simple. And it is very playable in two hour sessions, including char-gen.
    Is it available in english?

    As for the OP, I like Tenra Bansho Zero a lot, and it's designed for one-shots or short campaigns. You can manage to pull out an scenario in 4 hours just fine.
  • Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. I ended up choosing Kagematsu, Montsegur and S/lay w/Me (hoping to get good, non-creepy players for the last one). Kagematsu has intrigued me a long time, so it was a must. Montsegur has attracted a lot of interest as well. S/lay is short and I haven't played it yet, and it fills a small gap in the beginning.

    TBZ is pretty much first on my OHMYGOD list, but I won't have time to learn it in two weeks. The hyper-tempo scene editing seems to take a bit of practice.

    Everything else seemed very interesting, but there's no time this year.
  • Sounds good, I might join in one of your games. There are never enough indies in Ropecon, but those I've been in have been pretty good.
  • If you like Montsegur you'll like Witch, which is a little more wahoo than its parent game but follows the same pattern. i reviewed it here:
  • I love the text file tarots. I might have to try that out one day, if I get together enough people to try out something Japanese. Too many anime-haters around these parts.

    Upstart, welcome! A friend is also running three Fastaval scenarios (two of which are from the recent compilation Unelma keltaisesta kuninkaasta).
  • It would be difficult to obtain the latest "Daughters" because of the IPR shipping costs
    Ahh, yes, unfortunately shipping IS frightfully expensive these days. But The Daughters of Verona was included in the Epimas Nice bundle last year, so if got on board then you'll have it in your digital book shelf already. :-)

    Seriously, Epimas is an excellent way of getting/giving lots of excellent games just in time for the holidays. We don't give Eppy enough credit for arranging it year after year.
  • Yes, I remember Epimas... every year a day after it closes.

    At least I got Witch from the Bundle of Holding.

    I committed to running Montsegur in Finnish, and only after that I looked through how much I need to translate in-game stuff to Finnish. Ouch. But I need to do it, because high-emotion stuff takes a hit when you do it bilingually.
  • Yes. I did the translation for the Swedish version of M1244. And having played with the material in both languages I must say it was worth the effort.
  • Well, if it turns out any good, I'll send Frederik the results so he can put it up on the game's page.
  • 3:16 is a good low prep game that has surprising mechanics
    ...In Spaaace! has a cool Win/Win mechanic.
    Hope that helps!
    Dave M
  • The Montsegur game was indeed awesome, easily one of the best con games I've ever attended. How did the Kagematsu go?
  • I'm glad to hear it! I'm of the same opinion, and the thanks go to all of you, too.

    Kagematsu was stunning, and I'll write a (shortish) actual play report at some point.
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