Southern Exposure 2005

04Oct05

I went to Southern Exposure in Cherry Hill, NJ this weekend. The con went much better than expected. Fall cons have, with a few exceptions, been a bit cursed with me. Plus I woke up Friday morning with a sore throat, so I figured the weekend was gonna suck.

Glad I was wrong.

Friday we fought Philly Friday morning rush hour traffic to get there on time, and Kat’s With Great Power… game had four players. Feeling kinda grumpy, I was gonna sit out and watch. But once she had gone through the rules, I couldn’t help myself. No one chose The Stalwart. I had a chance to play my own game, while playing my own character! I jumped right in! It was a great deal of fun, even though I graciously backed out of the conflict scene to help keep things moving.

After the game we checked in to the hotel, grabbed some lunch @ the staff suite and set up for 2nd session. Kat was scheduled to run a Discernment double-shot, but that folded. I ran a session of PTA for 5 people who had never played before. Michele showed up and she and Kat went restaurant hunting.

Shamefaced confession: PTA is the simplest game that I can’t run right. Series and character creation is so collaborative and so fun, that when we start playing, we just keep on collaborating, often forgetting to write in conflict.

With Great Power… ran like that up to and including Dreamation, so it’s probably something in me. I think as Producer I haven’t been throwing enough adversity at the players. Part of that is certainly the gear-switching from total consensus (pregame) to adversarial friction (game). The other part is the friggin’ Stakes rules Matt has written. “The Producer’s Stake is always ‘no.'” So I’m supposed to bring on the big, fat, juicy adversity in all kinds of nonmechanical ways, an once the mechanics show up, I’m supposed to sit there and say, “Okay guys, *you* tell me what the conflict’s about.” It ain’t workin’ for me so far.

Anyway, the PTA game on Friday was pretty fun despite all that. They created a series called “Purgatory 9-to-5” It was an office comedy where the characters worked for a branch of hell, trying to bring in the numbers–damned souls. Sloth was the branch manager. Wrath was the receptionist. Pride was the suck-up assistant manager. Lust was the tech. support guy. Gluttony was the buyer. The NPCs were Greed as the accountant and Envy as the cool guy who used to work there, that everyone was always reminiscing about. I had a faith-based charity move in next store, which got them in hot water with the District Manager.

After a quick dinner at a nearby pizza joint, Friday night I was scheduled to run PTA again. Nobody showed. Scott Lescher’s game also folded. But it was the best folded game ever, ’cause Scott & Kat & Michele & I went to see Serenity.

About Serenity: WOW. I can’t even analyze it. It seized me by the throat and swept me away completely. It’s been a long time since I got so very, very enthralled by a movie. Probably since I went to see The Matrix, not knowing a thing of what it was about except that Kat wanted to see it.

Saturday morning was my WGP game. Again, we had 5 players at the table. Six, actually, since Kat wanted to play but gave up her seat. I ran “A League of Their Own” and it went very well. Surprisingly well, actually.

Y’see, as I said, I was battling chronic grumpiness up until now. I was even half-hoping the game would fold. But it didn’t, so I ran it. I’ve run WGP at conventions so often that I don’t really need my heart in the game to pull it off. My mouth knows what to say, when to say it, what emphasis to put where. This is a helpful skill in a sleep-deprived convention environment, but it’s gotten me into trouble before.

At one of those “cursed” fall conventions several years ago, I was running FVLMINATA. I could also run that with my eyes closed, and still pronounce Flegmaticus and Melancholicus properly. But, as I’ve said, FVLMINATA is a game I wrote, and want to love, but don’t. So, at this convention, I’m running the game, talking the talking, and my heart is *really* not in it. So far “not in it” that I enter this strange state of consciousness like I’m outside myself watching myself go through the motions of running the game. Seeing myself do something that I *really* did not want to do. It was deeply disturbing and I very nearly quit gaming entirely after that convention.

Back to Saturday morning, I’m in the same situation: A fall con in NJ, running a game I wrote, and running it on autopilot because my heart isn’t in it. I’m kinda afraid what might happen. Will I do the split-consciousness thing again?

But what happens is that as the time ticks by, and my mouth keeps talking and my arms keep holding up that ever-lovin’ Thought Balloon, my heart warms up to the game. I remember why I love With Great Power… The melodrama! The tragedy! It was a fun, fun game.

Okay, I’m only through Saturday morning, with a couple of detours, but I’ve gotta post this and get to work. More later.

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