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Continuum 2012: After Action Report

Wordplay - New Hardcover Edition
So after the general overview of the convention, here are some thoughts on the games that I ran and played in. The comments here are deliberately spoiler-free.

Continuum as whole had a strong flavour of Wordplay for me. I ran two Wordplay scenarios and played another.

1) Wordplay: Singularities "Turing Test"
Run on Friday night, this was the third time that I had run this scenario, the previous sessions having been at Furnace over the last two years. The scenario aims to present a more military espionage style than I usually adopt, in the style of some of Neal Asher or other modern SF. The players are all heavily armoured 'Chines, effectively human brains and spinal cords mounted in a Terminator style armoured chassis. The scenario is full of nastiness and aimed to show that the Singularities Universe is not black and white but somewhat grey and morally ambiguous. I think it succeeded. We had a great bunch of players who were admirably flexible in their approach to a mission that some would find distasteful. They also took a completely different tack to the previous player, one that really paid off towards the end of the game.

One of my highlights was running for Mark Galeotti, author of Mythic Russia, who is also working on a Wordplay engined game called "1510". Mark played the leader of the mercenary unit perfectly. Overall, the game went well, and I think there was enough of a mix of pace and action to keep the interest. One thing that I could kick myself for was using the supporting dice incorrectly, something that Graham Spearing pointed out the next morning when I returned the favour and played Mark's scenario.

Continuum 2012: Wordplay:1510
Wordplay 1510: Left Graham Spearing, Right: Mark Galeotti

2) Wordplay: 1510
The scenario was set in the unique and flavoursome world of sixteenth century Italian clockpunk and espionage that is 1510. It is a fantastic setting and one that I can't wait to get hold of in final form.

Continuum 2012: Wordplay:1510

Due to an error, we ended up with eight players rather than the six planned, something that our narrator coped with admireably. I ended up with the character that I secretly wanted when the descriptions were given out (a somewhat out-of-favour priest who dabbled in alchemy) and had great fun thundering on about the perils that our opponent's immortal souls were in should they continue to oppose us. A little over the top, but it worked well after the far-too-late night before. The scenario went well, as we fumbled along trying to carry out an extraction operation in Venice for the glory of Florence. It got messy, but it was great fun with a good bunch of players.

3) Wordplay: Utopia "In a Strange Land"
In the evening, I ran a game from the forthcoming short Wordplay theme I've written called Utopia. This was set in a dystopian SF colony with flavours of Logan's Run, The Island, THX1138 and Big Brother. This was the game that had me most nervous, as I had drafted it for Furnace 2011 but it had not been run in the end. I spent a little of the afternoon amending and updating the plot, as I wanted to avoid too much of a feeling of comedy Paranoia RPG in space with monsters!

I think that I just managed to avoid that, and also managed to give the players a good time. The scenario also identified a few weaknesses in the characters I'd written which need to be written out. Overall, a dark but fun game which preceded another late night chatting.

4) A Taste for Murder
'A Taste for Murder' is the exquisite Agatha Christie style 1930's country house murder game written by Graham Walmsley. It's completely player driven, and so made a great idea for Sunday morning. Between the 5 players and myself we created a very twisted, sordid tale of upper class hedonism and inbreeding. Very much like the first time I ran this at Furnace. It does make me wonder if there is something in the mindset of the average UK player? I didn't run this as such; the best way to put it would be that I acted as a facilitator for the players. We wrapped up a few minutes late, but had a good time. If anything, it reminded me why I don't especially like 3 hour slots.

Continuum 2012: Last Night on Earth
Last Night on Earth: Left Peter Griffiths, Right: Dave Maple

5) Boardgame: Last Night on Earth
I met up with Dave Maple at Continuum, a friend who I first met at the tender age of 18 during my year-out before University working in Cumbria. We'd agreed to play a boardgame or two (after Dave played in my Utopia game) but ended up just playing 'Last Night on Earth' after Newt of d101 Games bamboozled us into a very interesting two hour long ('one hour, honest') panel on game publishing(*) with himself and Neil Gow. Once we left the game, Dave, myself and Peter Griffiths prepared to see who could survive!

Last Night on Earth is a zombie survival game, which was of interest to me as I am waiting to take delivery of the Zombicide Kickstarter. The components were excellent, and I think that it captured the feel of a Zombie Movie really well. Dave took the Zombies while Peter and I cooperated to try and survive. What amused me was that the character I least expected to survive from my initial hand – the Prom Queen – lasted the whole game, most of it trapped in a hanger, but also managed to kill the most zombies. Good fun, and a game I'd happily try again.