Auscon Story Games & RPGs are on!

See? I told ya so! Auscon is running a day of story games and RPGs. May 1, the Sunday of the event, is the RPG taster.

A taster for what? For a larger RPG convention being planned for later in 2011. A convention with high focus on RPGs and story games.

The call is out for GMs to volunteer to run games at the taster in April. Any GM who does this will get a full weekend pass to Auscon. That gives you plenty of time on other days to wander the vendor booths or play the other games on the schedule.

Sessions are 9am to 1pm, 2pm to 6pm and a super-session from 7pm to midnight. If you want to run a game, send an email to ((andrew)) *dot* (mg) *dot* ((smith)) at ((gmail)) . (com)

(Sorry for the horrors of the parentheses – spam bots are evil).


Auscon on your radar

It might not have been on your radar until now, but I think it should be. Keep your eyes on the Auscon site. There might be some good news for story gamers, if the rumours I hear are true.

Gen Con Oz 2011 has been cancelled

You may have heard by now that Gen Con Oz 2011 has been cancelled. The announcement is on the twitters and the facebooks. The site still has the announcement that the 2010 convention was cancelled, so for the time being there’s nothing useful there. It looks as though it’s been cancelled for the same reasons as in 2010. That is, not enough corporate sponsorship.

Speculate away, if you like, about the reasons for it, but the problem now remains that there is no Gen Con Oz this year. What are your plans now? Will you try to attend something else, or more impressively, will you try to organise something else?

What I’m stealing from the weekend: Smallville and Shock

I played Smallville and Shock for the first time at Uprising and I’d like to thank Steve and Peter (I hope it was Peter.  I’m ridiculously bad with names) for running them.

I’ve reviewed them for a non-gamery audience way over here, which is my work blog, and I’d love it if you nipped by, but in this post I’m going to write about what I can steal, in terms of game mechanics.

So, for me the revelation about Smallville was the way it used the relationship map to frame scenes, and the simple oppositional rolling.  I thought that would make it a good system for pbp style play. It would need some sort of communal whiteboard tool, but there are a heap of those around. I think because we were playing a short session the game rewarded characters who were shallower and more extreme in their goals, but would be interested in seeing if that’s a persistent element or if the game is more rewarding for rounded characters over extended play.

For my own game design, what I took from Smallville is the power of diagrams as play contract design tools.  Now I write mostly for Ars, and we have the idea that the place where the characters live is a living embodiment of play contract, so you can look at the map of a magi’s castle and see the structure of the stories told so far and various hooks for future stories, as it were, in the very stones, but the way Smallville ties in NPCs and forces connections between places and NPCs, so that complexity of use to the narrative emerges, that’s a really great trick.  The key to it seems to be to get the players to contribute in formal turns, so that layers form, and each player can assess each layer before adding more material.

Shock was interesting to me because I have played few GMless systems, and its designed for shortform play, whereas Ars is very long sagas, by design.  Mechanically its very sparse, so in terms of design lessons I can’t really nominate one thing I’ve learned from it that I’d like to steal for my own work.  There may be some ideas in terms of saga design, or story arc design, but I’m going to have to ponder those a little more.  The Ars system is virtue and flaw, so players bring their own issues to the saga.  There may be something in the “I bid my emotional connection to X for the reroll.” that could be coupled with the Ars Magica Confidence rules, especially the Infernal variants. 

In Ars, you can use your Confidence points to aid rolls.  In Ars is you are playing a diabolist, your sins give you Confidence and then you spend it to cast malefic spells. I can sort of see something there, so that, like in Shock, you’d wager bits of yourself for demonic assistance.  This would give you a sort of thing like in Books of Magic where the wizard trades the memory of his first kiss with the love of his life for demonic aid.  I’m not quite sure how that would work, but it’s something to remember, in case I need it later.

Uprising website is up (rising)

So many recursions in that title…

But it’s all good news. The Uprising weekend has a website now. Go check it out for all the information about Uprising.

Yes, Uprising!

Uprising call for events

The call for events at Uprising has started. Take a look at the Uprising page at Warhorn for an idea of the gaming slots available so far. I should also let you know that these are not the final slots.

So send an email to me at with details of your game and a preference for your game session. Looking forward to hearing from you.

EDIT: The email address for event registration is

From the Ashes of GenConOz 2010

Australian gamers were dealt a terrible blow a fortnight ago when Ian Houlihan regretfully announced the cancellation of GenConOz 2010. This was widely regarded as a Very Sad Thing.

Several smaller groups started working on their own activities to fill the void, and after a week started talking to each other about working together. And that’s how it is that from September 24-26 in Brisbane Australia there will be Uprising. If we can’t have the Best Four Days of Australian Gaming, we’ll cut it down to three instead.

Alongside Warmachine, L5R and Magic there will be seminars on GMing, seminars on game design and workshops on game design, featuring some of Australia’s finest freelancers and indie game designers.

Watch for updates here and in other good gaming places.