2006-07-30: And a good time was had by all
JiffyCon July came off yesterday in lovely Greenfield, MA. A fair passle of around 16 adults plus half a dozen kids turned out in the early morning to gobble donuts and try out some indie games. People came from as close as Northampton and as far away as Rochester and NYC (thanks for making the trip, Mike & Jon!).
We had five tables full in the morning: Joshua had a full slate for Shock: He had a proof copy of the game, which is gorgeous with its matte orange and black cover and sleek layout a la J.A.C. Newman. Meg ran 1001 Nights in the morning and the afternoon. I heard good things about the games, but didn't get to hear what kinds of stories got told. Meg?
I ran the Shab Al-Hiri Roach in the a.m. session. Yup, eating the roach first thing in the morning. Yum, yum. It was a full table—Tom, Krista (Brennan's awesome wife), and Evan and Kat from Northampton. Kat and Evan found us via meeting Brennan and Clinton at a con. It was so great to meet you guys! Let's definitely play more together. The roach got hold of most of us right from the get go. We were quickly cutting down the Pembertonians and trying to destroy eachother with glee. The chancellor bit it at the evening soiree (due to clever poisoning by Kat's ancient Art History professor that the Chancellor had back stabbed), and I got to be smashed to smithereens as the radical prof. Scott Collins, marxist, up in arms for the proletariat and women's rights—killed by the mad Prof. Mortonheimer played by Evan, sacrificed on his lunatic "musical" installation that involved a pile driver mounted above a bell in the center of a ring of rifle wielding mannikins. What a way to go. Tom brought Harry Potter chocolate roaches for us to imbibe when we took the dark plunge, and everyone got their very own rubbery roach compliments of Jason.
Vincent ran AG&G in the morning, and got to put Jasper and Benn Grant through their narrative paces. Then there was so much demand for Mechaton that we had two tables of it going on. In one, Nathan rocked house with my camo guerrilla combat mechs—embellished with duel flame throwers—in one game, and Brennan fielded mechs built by his kids Lillith and Crispin made out of a huge box of legos thoughtfuly brought by Mike Rotondo. Throughout the day there was a lego corner: an area of the floor just covered with legos. You could find various kids and adults engrossed with their creations there throughout the day.
Tom ran a Capes scenario set in Western Mass: the minor league heros were trying to prove themselves worthy of the big time when crises break out. The heros featured included Jiffy (a speedster, I believe) and Mechaton—the robot champion of course—and a martial artist named Crab Rangoon. The evil Dr. Disappearo was on the loose tearing things up and I presume right won the day, but we'll have to have Tom and the others tell us more.
I even got to do a final playtest of Shooting the Moon, which went wonderfully. Julia (of Erie Nights) and I did a a two player game set in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York City at the turn of last century, @1900. The beloved was a white girl from a wealthy family who was trying to make her own way by teaching the children of immigrants. Our characters had younger siblings in her class, and were trying to gain her romantic attention. Although Julia's character was a charming Irish rogue and a scallywag who only wanted to bed her, while my character was a well-meaning young Eastern European Jew, freshly finishing up his apprenticeship with a black smith, whose intentions were to make an honest woman of her, guess who got the girl! Yeah, after an altercation at a park sparked a city-wide racial riot, Seamus O'Connoughy with the luck of the Irish makes off with young Jenny Roberts. He has his way with her, knocks her up and then leaves her for his Irish love from the old country Rosie McCann! Oh, the irony.
All in all the day went really well. We ended with dinner at the People's Pint, a wandering walk around Greenfield, and then more hanging out at chez Bakers. We had many requests to do this again, so we'll be sure to. I'm thinking early November, before the holiday frenzy kicks in. We'd be thrilled to have folks from out Ithaca way come in—we will totally put you up Judd, Jeff et al. And hope to get even more of the folks from our area who heard about it but couldn't make this date.
First or second weekend in November for the next one. Pencil us in!
2006-07-30 14:26:45 Emily
Actually, that was four tables in the a.m. and five in the afternoon. Plus the kids playing card and board games.
2006-07-30 15:14:40 Nathan P.
I wrote down what I thought were appropriate titles for our morning 1001 Nights game:
The first story was told by Servit Bin Danash, a palace gardener (played by Meg). It was The Story Of Yasmin And Mahmoud As They Struggled Up The Mountain.
The second story was told by Perviz, the Dwarf entertainer (played by myself). It was The Story Of The Boy Of The Earth As He Travelled To The Clouds And Back Again.
The third story was told by Hassan, an assistant astronomer (Brennan's second character). It was The Story Of The Magician And The Herbalist As They Saved The Sultan's Neice And Nephew From Death Of The Body And Spirit.
And Mechaton is awesome. Now I just want to build lego Mechs. I remembered that there's actually a Lego store, one with all the bins of parts that you can buy singly, about 20 minutes from me. I feel like a visit out to Burlington is in my future....
Anyway, thanks again for putting this event together. I had a really good time, and I'm already excited for the next one! And a big thank you to Meg and Vincent, for sharing ther home and cute children with us all after the event proper.
2006-07-30 17:06:28 Michael C.
Sounds like a grand time was had by all. I'll selfishly hope that the second weekend of November wins out for the next one, since I'll be at World Fantasy Convention the first weekend. It sounds like this might be the sort of thing that'll happen again and again though, I'm sure I'll make it up from Connecticut sooner or later.
2006-07-31 04:03:17 Meguey
I have just this minute put the last corrections to the proof of 1001Nights, and will give a JiffyCon report sometime tomorrow. Nathan, great titles. (I like how the titles act as recaps for this game.)
2006-07-31 12:42:57 Jon Hastings
Emily & Meg,
Thanks for organizing this! It was great fun meeting you, playing games, and hanging out. (Definitely worth the trip!)
Shock: was as cool as I expected and playing 1001 Nights was not only loads of fun, but I was thinking about all the neat RPG Theory-related subtleties of the game for the rest of the weekend.
And my friend Ed, who played in the morning Shock: session, told me he was definitely interested in playing more of these kinds of games (his last RPG experience was GURPS, 15 years ago).
All the best,
2006-07-31 14:10:49 NinJ
Jon, it was a pleasure having you in that game. I'll put up a report over at Monkey Do, Monkey See the minute I have some time.
I'm glad Ed enjoyed himself! Get the man a copy of PTA!
2006-08-01 00:02:00 edhayes13
Hi Emily, Meg, et al.
Thanks so much for putting in the work to make this happen! My impetus for coming was to hang out with my friends Jon and Mark. I'm glad I came—I really enjoyed working with Joshua's game 'Shock'.
Mark saved the world from an insidiously designed, mind-controlling, deadly, genetically modified corn fungus with his band of organic farmers while I created a digital super-conscious from billions of uploaded human minds. What more could I ask for from a Saturday morning in Greenfield?
I'd love to play again. How can I do it?
2006-08-01 00:46:02 Emily
We can arrange that. When we get back from GenCon, let's have a local confab & talk about some more games. Also, looks like there's a good chance we'll do some kind of event like this again in the fall. But no reason to wait until then!
Benn Grant and I have been chatting about further contact options. He suggested making a MA/VT/NH mailing list. A local forum might even be better yet. Do you folks have interest in some kind of venue for us to make plans to do more gaming?
2006-08-01 12:43:29 Mark Dellelo
Just dropping in to say that I had a great time, too, and look forward to trying both "Shock" and "1001 Nights" again now that I have a better idea of how they work. Both games were taught/run in a very encouraging and friendly way, but I feel like I was just getting started with both of them and am already thinking of ideas for stories and characters to use next time around.
2006-08-01 13:25:11 NinJ
This seems like a good functionality for FindPlay, too: a remailer for multiple people.
Mark, Ed, and Jon, I'm glad you liked the game. There will be more soon, actually; I'm getting the itch, myself. We're about to start 6 or so weeks of Dogs in the Vineyard, but when that ends, I'm sure some science fiction will be close at hand.
2006-08-01 13:34:01 Julia
I wish I could have been there for the morning session, but the promise of commerce at the farmers market beckoned. (I sold $5 in merchandise after I gave a woman a 50% discount just so I could say I sold something that day, paid $2.50 for my table, and basically lost money being there. I should have just ditched it!) Anyway, playing with you is always fun, Emily, and Saturday was no different.
I would like to help out in whatever capacity for the next JiffyCon incarnation!
2006-08-01 21:45:33 Jmstar
Emily, I'm so glad you ran The Roach and I hope everybody had fun. Your event sounds like it went super well. We'll have to conspire to do something similar down in bad old NC.
The actual URL is
2006-08-02 05:03:48 Meguey
Ok, here's my report: It rocked.
Longer version: It was cool to see people walking in the door that I'd never seen before. I was aware of the social weirdness and bravery of a group of people who are meeting for the first time with the express purpose of something as fringy and geekish as role-playing. I'm totally thrilled we had such a neat bunch of folks come to the first JiffyCon.
Now for the gaming! I ran two sessions of 1001 Nights. In my first session, I had Nathan P and Brennan Taylor. I???d never met either of them, and this was the very first game of 1001 Nights I???d run for folks not in on it since the beginning. Nervous? Yeah, a bit. But Nathan wrote Carry, which I???d commented on at StoryGames, and Brennan is IPR, and heck, they were here to game, so let???s have at it!
Character creation worked smoothly, and they both came up with great characters. It???s interesting to see who picks a Courtier from the list, and who brings their own slant into the game. These two both went off the list. Nathan???s dwarf entertainer was as emotionally damaged as his back, Brennan???s noble hostage African prince was the very picture of trapped decadence, and my little gardener played the foil between them.
Ambitions seem to naturally point to other Courtiers fairly often, which I think is awesome, but which I didn???t want to write in as a Rule. In this case, I wanted to give the prince a skin rash using some herbal thing (I envied his smooth pampered skin), and the Prince wanted to find someone at Court to trust, and from the very start, that seemed to be the dwarf.
I framed the first Story, casting them as a hard-working and worthy brother and an idle, slacker sister. Nathan and Brennan both caught on to the system of declaring interests pretty quick, but I think Brennan???s suggestion of having someone else GM the first Story so I can demo how that works is really good, especially as I head to GenCon.
We told a great Story about the siblings going looking for water. I got to do just the right amount of GM outline, saying ???There???s a rustle in the brush behind you, as of some wild animal???. A few moments later, Nathan colored that in as a tiger, intent on devouring the sister. Brennan stepped up and had the sister bargain her life in exchange for her brother finding water for their people. How intense is that?!?! So, the message we all got as Courtiers was that the prince was more noble than he appeared, and the sister got eaten.
What I liked was the way we had a Story that could have come right out of a fairytale book by the end. I actually told the second Story, about the Boy of Earth who visited the Clouds, as a bed-time story for my kids, and it was awesome.
The second session was Jasper, Mark, and Jon as players, and I tried the thing Brennan suggested, leading folks through Courtier creation, setting up the Court, then handing the first Story over to Jasper so I could demo the declaring interests bit. It worked ok, but it was later in the day, and the players didn???t know each other at all, which resulted in a little hesitancy to interrupt and declare things. Our first Story was *fantastic*. Jasper framed it up, with a king, a princess, and a talking monkey in an isolated tower. Jon was the king, Mark was the princess, and I was the monkey. We all fell really naturally into nearly Shakespearian speech-patterns ??? lots of ???My master bids me come and tell you??? and ???Father, I have only one wish in all the world??? and so on.
There???s this thing that happens, where you are interested in something and you want to declare it, but you don???t want to seem rude and interrupt whoever???s talking ??? the skill to learn is the use of an ???aside??? voice, so everyone knows what you???ve declared but the flow isn???t broken. Kind of like being on the phone and answering a question in the room at the same time.
Jon said afterward (and here I paraphrase) that it was kind of like railroading, but without the pain, and it didn???t *have* to happen, just gave direction.
Anyway, that???s my report.
2006-08-02 18:33:47 Emily
Great games, Meg. I'm glad the subtleties of 1001 Nights are getting recognized, esp in Jon Hastings actual play write up over at the Forge.
Benn G. just set up a yahoo group for Northern New England (and NY) folks to get in touch via:
2006-08-02 23:27:56 Judd
I will talk with the Ithaca Posse post-Gen Con and see what we can do. Sounds like fun.
Believe me, I'd rather have been gaming than lugging boxes and bins to and fro all weekend but there was no way around it. For me this weekend was about moving.
2006-08-03 14:35:53 Emily
Understood. Hope your move went well, Judd. There will be more opportunities.
Like next weekend in Indianapolis, for example!
2006-08-03 21:58:15 Judd
Next weekend, indeed.
I can hardly wait.