My Metatopia Schedule (With Commentary)
My wife and I will be attending Metatopia in Morristown, NJ, this weekend. Here are the events we'll be attending with some of my thoughts on them.
D005: "Adventure Design as Technology" presented by Cam Banks & Rob Donoghue. We started with a map and a key. There have been structural improvements since then: boxed text, wandering monsters, plot point adventures, hard and soft points, personality-driven dungeons, mad libs plots and many more. This process has not been rigors, so the spread of these ideas has been haphazard and without the thought that's gone into rules improvements. That is a shame. Take some time to talk about these technologies and how they can help you make better adventures. Friday, 10:00AM - 11:00AM; Serious, All Ages.I enjoy a good adventure, but they are hard to do well. It can't hurt to listen to two really smart people share ideas to make them better.
D009: "Planning for Profit" presented by Rick Loomis, Tim Rodriguez & Brennan Taylor. There's a moment as a designer when you suddenly find yourself running a business, instead of a hobby. Join three designers who have been through this for a discussion on good business practices and how to avoid the most common problems and pitfalls. Friday, 11:00AM - 12:00PM; Serious, All Ages.I believe +Jamie Stefko put this one on our list. I experience much stress when I think about the pure business side of the industry. Maybe this panel will help.
D010: "Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition Analysis" presented by Rob Donoghue & Jason Pitre. So, the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons is out. Now it's time to dig into the design and talk about the rules, procedures and advice that the game brings to the RPG design field. Let's look at the crunchy bits! Friday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM; Serious, All Ages.If you haven't been reading +Rob Donoghue's musings on 5e at The Walking Mind, go do it right now.
D013: "Cartography of Fictional Worlds" presented by Kenneth Hite, Hal Mangold & Mark Richardson. Learn from a panel of veteran cartographers and game designers the techniques they use to make maps of fictional worlds. Friday, 1:00PM - 2:00PM; Serious, All Ages.Mapping is hard. +Mark Richardson is really good at it. And +Kenneth Hite.
R150: [BETA TEST] "Strange New Worlds" by Critical-Hits Studios, LLC; presented by Dave Chalker. You know the drill: Explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone beforeâ€¦if only things wouldn't keep going wrong on routine missions. A Star Trek-inspired RPG, Powered by the Apocalypse. Knowledge of Apocalypse World a plus but not required. Friday, 2:00PM - 4:00PM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY.Jamie spotted this game as well. We love Star Trek, and I've heard about +Dave Chalker's AW hack before and though it sounded fun.
D028: "Bisociation, Mashups, the Uncanny, and the Weird: Toward an Aesthetic of Setting Bricolage" presented by Kenneth Hite. In an age where "everything is mashup", what makes a game setting more than the sum of its parts? Both the modern "uncanny" and the postmodern "slipstream" depend on subverting or deranging expectations, but how can you get good play without something to play off of? Do Koestler's "bisociation" or Lovecraft's "truly weird" help us out or derail us? Designer Kenneth Hite (NIGHT'S BLACK AGENTS, DAY AFTER RAGNAROK) isn't sure yet, which is why he asks you to join him and think out loud on these topics. Friday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM; Serious, All Ages.Kenneth Hite.
R228: [BETA TEST] Iron Edda; "Memories of Metal and Bone" by Stormin' Da Castle; presented by Jeremy Morgan. Memories of Metal and Bone is based on Iron Edda, using mechanics from Lady Blackbird and Always/Never/Now. Midgaard lies in ruin, and we've gone into space aboard our Jotunn living ships, but the damned Dwarves also found a way to develop spacecraft, and they're up here too. We're the crew of the Stormbeard, and we search for why Ragnarok didn't happen. Friday, 8:00PM - 10:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.+Jeremy Morgan has been working on this hack since the Iron Edda Kickstarter. I've never played Lady Blackbird or A/N/N, but I hear it's a good system. Looking forward to this one.
D039: "Women in Game Design: Building Networks and Forming Mentorships" presented by Emily Care-Boss, Julia Ellingboe, Shoshana Kessock, Amanda Valentine & Avonelle Wing. The "gaming industry" has been a brutal place to be a woman this year. Join our esteemed panelists for a conversation about the need for strong support networks and finding mentors in a turbulent and sometimes hostile industry. Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:00AM; Serious, All Ages.Jamie wanted to go to this one, too, and asked me to come with her.
R303: [BETA TEST] "Noir World" by The Writer Next Door; presented by John Adamus. Noir World is a collaborative-GM Apocalypse Word hack focusing on a noir world of both classic and neo film tropes. Players take on the roles of detectives, femme fatales, mooks, war vets and more in tragic tales of crime, suffering and corruption as they not only direct play but shape the story they're telling. This game's influences run a gamut from The Maltese Falcon. Double Indemnity and Out of the Past to neo-noirs like Pulp Fiction, Sin City and Brick. Saturday, 11:00AM - 1:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.I've read some of the material +John Adamus has written for this game, and it looks very interesting.
D051: "Style Guides Are Your Friend" presented by John Adamus & Amanda Valentine. Style guides are one of the indispensable tools an editor uses to help make your project the best it can be. Learn more about them and the other must-have tools an editor uses, and find out why following the style guide can mean the difference between making "a thing" and "a game". Saturday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM; Serious, All Ages.I actually requested this panel when +Avonelle Wing put out a call for ideas. I always feel that my work is better when I have a style guide to work from, and it's the first thing I ask for when working with a new company or game.
R366: [BETA TEST] Fate Core; "Dreamdiver" by Phoenix Outlaw Productions; presented by Josh Harrison. Dreamdiver is a Fate Core game about your imagination. You play a Diver, running the dreamscape to liberate new ideas, protect the collective unconscious, and overcome the enemies of free thought. Each dream comes alive as an original character, with skills, stunts, and abilities that make every dive unique. Together with your friends, you'll explore the hopes, fears, and inner lives of your characters across two worlds. In this session, we'll focus on dream creation, dream travel, and the setting-specific skills featured in Dreamdiver. We'll also try to stop a psychic mega-corporation from dominating the world overnight. Saturday, 4:00PM - 6:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.I was in a focus group for this game at last year's Metatopia, and I thought it had a great high concept.
R380: [BETA TEST] "Starjump Chronicles" by Sweet Potato Press; presented by Dev Purkayastha. A collaborative space adventure story game. Space is calling, so get a crew, get a ship, find new places, find trouble, and make some noise. You'll be creating your universe and discovering your relationships and complications as you play. Saturday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM; Fun, All Ages.Jamie grabbed this one for us. Again, it has a Star Trek (or possibly Traveller/Firefly) sound to it.
R416: [BETA TEST] "Terra Incognita" presented by Vivian Abraham. Terra Incognita is a fantasy role playing game in the tradition of Dungeons & Dragons. It draws its inspiration from the history and legends of North, Central, and South America. This playtest will focus on the basic play rules: Conflict resolution, skill and ability use, and general game mechanics. Characters will be pre-gens, and we will run through several scenes of an adventure for beginning characters, with time for Q&A at the end. Saturday, 8:00PM - 10:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.Jamie again. I don't really know what to expect here.
D071: "The Least System Necessary" presented by Cam Banks, Rob Donoghue, Clark Valentine & Stephen Hood. How much system does your game need? We'll be examining very minimal systems like Risus, CORE, Amber DRPG and so on as a starting point for design, always coming back to the question of whether you are adding things to your system because it need it, or because you're "Supposed To". Saturday, 10:00PM - 11:00PM; Serious, All Ages.Again, very smart people talking about an interesting topic. +Clark Valentine wrote Fate Accelerated Edition, which approaches "least system necessary" for Fate.
R457: [BETA TEST] "Project: Dark" by Gameplaywright Press; presented by Will Hindmarch. Stealthy adventure gaming with a card-based rules system built from the ground-up to bring stealth-action play to the tabletop. Adventures can be set in a fantastical city or on a futuristic planet; let's find out! Come get a glimpse of this game that's great for 1-4 players plus a GM. Sunday, 10:00AM - 12:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.I've been trying to sit a table of Project: Dark for close to a year now. I've finally done it. +Will Hindmarch is cool, one of those very smart people, and this should be a phenomenal way to close out the show.