I'm Going to Metatopia
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Metatopia is an amazing game convention. The Double Exposure organizers have always been supportive of new and independent designers and Metatopia is an entire convention devoted to us. I’ll be bringing two new works-in-progress there for playtest and I’m looking forward to seeing what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next for them.
(Working title.) Cyberpunk procedural with a heavy emphasis on improvisation. In this test run an anti-cybercrimes division of the government clashes with a cell of terrorist hackers. The inspiration is obvious, especially if you know where this working title came from. It will be quicker to get going if I can say “like this but this” at the start of the session.
This one has a lot of indie-isms at work. Players belong to teams, each with its own Director, who has light GM duties, so it can be played competitively. Characters are made up of collections of Traits, most of which are defined in the moment that they are used as the players reveal their semi-secret origins. The game is diceless, using a sort of rock-paper-scissors resolution of bidding and comparing Traits to guide narration through discreet scenes.
GET9 actually grew out of the notes from Contract Work, my abandoned design about hit men. It was far too ambitious for me at the time but since then I’ve played and learned a lot more so we’ll soon see if that’s going to pay off. My biggest concern is how long this one will run. I honestly have no idea if it will be two hours or eight to complete an operation, with one team taking down the other.
This one’s even more out there. It’s a game system that provides a framework to tell stories of doomed romance patterned after the structure of Romantic era opera. Two players act as the lovers and the others are choristers. The profiles of the lovers and the world of the choristers are decided by the players collectively interpreting hands of cards that they draw at the start, so the world is semi-randomly generated. This one also leans on improvisation, using a system of bidding and comparing playing cards during a conversational “recitative” to decide the player who has narrative control over an “aria,” essentially a soliloquy in which they get to advance the story.
I’ve been thinking of this as an outline game. One that provides hooks to hang the narrative thread but leaves big spaces for the players to fill. That allows creativity to blossom, but also requires players who can think on their feet and roll with the “yes, and” of improvisation. You don’t have to sing. But that would be cool.
Project Wingspan won’t be making it to this Metatopia. Wingspan is a game of secret cyborg super-soldiers, based on Tears of a Machine‘s concepts and mechanics but with a greater emphasis on the “loss of self” that goes into being the superhero on the battlefield. In order to become more capable of defending their homeland the characters have to give in to becoming more machine, and a greater threat to their own side.
The playtests that I’ve already run have shown me that there’s plenty of work to do on it and I haven’t had the time. In essence, I went too far afield from the source mechanics and need to pull it back into a more “traditional” design. It may be ready for the next round of conventions. Time will tell.
Hope to see you there!