Camp Nerdly


Pulled into the driveway less than an hour ago. It’s good be home. It was really, really good to be at Camp Nerdly. So many old friends to see, and new friends to make. So much fun, talent, and enthusiasm. So much fresh air! Such a good time!

Friday was extra strength stress in a bottle with a side of tension. We got to camp about 10:30, unloaded, found our cabin, said our “hello”s, eaves-dropped on the last minutes of a game of Ganakagok, and went to bed.

Saturday was breakfast, then getting a parking permit, supermarket run, prepping for lunch. Darn the power-drain on those crock pots! But nobody went hungry. Next time we’ll bring extra-long extension cords and it will be better.

Saturday after noon was a playtest of By The Stars with a full complement of nine players (including myself). I’d like to thank all the folks who put 3 hours worth of fun-expectation in the hands of my game-in-development. The game lacked some of the spark that previous playtests exhibited. I’ll be pondering on the why of that over the coming days. But it was a fun time with fun people. And a game that will be much more fun in the future.

AFter that was helping out with dinner prep and then the Camp Nerdly talent show. Clinton sang us a clever little song about a shrimp that reminded me of “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” Krista sang us a lovely song in Polish. Tony showed off his dexterity with contact-juggling an orange. Fred and Evelyn Wolke sang us some filks. Alexander sang us an R-rated version of an English rowing song. Dave Younce sang us an Irish drinking song. Andy K told us a grand story about 3 talents. And if that weren’t enough, Jason Morningstar recited Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare! I think I want to be Jason Morningstar in another life (or at least recite some Shakespeare at the next Nerdly).

AFter dinner, I played Nine Worlds with Alexander Newman, Kat, and Nathan Herrold. It was very instructive about the structure of 9W, and the potential of the game. But in 3 hours, we didn’t accomplish a whole lot–we hadn’t even really gotten started. I’ve got some thoughts on how Alexander can make that much better. But I’m still glad I played. I got to play one of the greatest hunters in the nine worlds, who was hunting the eagle that used to eat Prometheus’ liver. Both Zeus AND Prometheus thought I was hunting it for them!

Saturday night, I played Serial with Kat, Alexander, and Jeff (?). As always, the victims sprang to life and their inevitable deaths were highly tragic. Except, maybe, for my jerk of a business climber. But I loved how Jeff’s character’s death cemented him a place in his broken family. I greatly enjoyed it. After that, bed.

Sunday morning found the phenomenon that is Alexander Newman making omelets-to-order for anyone who wanted one. Wow!

Furthering the Wow, I got to play Grey Ranks this morning! I’ve wanted to play the game for a while, and I got to play with Alexander (notice a trend? I’m not stalking him, really!), Nathan, Jason, and Joshua. I played Basia, a bookish Polish girl who was secretly in love with a German boy. She ended up offering her virtue to a Gestapo soldier to lure him into an assassination trap. Whether she was caught in the same trap was undefined at the end of the game. The game was harsh, bleak, tragic, and lovely. This could be really heart-wrenching if played over a full set of 3 sessions. The game suffered slightly from the compressed timeframe. It was a really good session, but it wasn’t amazing. On the drive home I was thinking, “Y’know, if I had played this exact same session 5 years ago, it would have blown my mind that you could get such a tragic, exciting, emotional, artistic, historical story from a role-playing game.” I’m glad that my recent years of play have given me higher standards.

Much thanks to everyone at Nerdly for making it such a great weekend!

12 Responses to “Camp Nerdly”

  1. Hey Mike, I just wanted to write and say that I’m really glad you had an awesome time at Nerdly. I had a lot of fun in the By The Stars game, despite my speed bumps. I was pretty out of it (early afternoon isn’t my best time), but I still got the sense of a grand story happening around me. Good times.

  2. 3 Anonymous

    Thanks for trying out Grey Ranks, Mike! Your obvious enthusiasm really helped. I really need to figure out how to present it as a one shot and, more importantly, as a demo.

  3. 4 Anonymous

    I’m James Jeffers and I the “Jeff” mentioned above. I have to say that playing Serial was a highlight of Camp Nerdly for me. I’m looking forward to seeing it polished and published.

  4. Wait… you’re not stalking me? I feel unloved, now.
    I had a blast – I met new people, played games with them, and got to hang out with lots of people I like. Awesome. As ever the With Great Chili was yum-a-licious.

  5. Mike! We didn’t game together! That stinks!
    Whew, now that I’ve used up my lifetime supply of exclamation points, I’m gonna say we totally need to game together come DexCon.

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