RokCon I – 2012

Arrgh! Arrgh! Feet so itchy!

Yes, kids, they have mozzies at Caloola farm. Oh I was busy, running around in jeans in a Canberra summer, spraypainting, assembling, fretting (as in, mentally, not carpentery) – didn’t feel a thing. But now? Fucking itchy. Big mozziebite lumps on my feet and legs.

The Con – well, not as resounding a success as it might have been. I enjoyed the boardgames. Its all new to me, the boardgaming thing. There’s someone at work who does it – it’s a serious hobby that people pursue.

We did run Climate Control Unit 157. I’m getting “dude, it was great, it was awesome, people loved it” from Matt, but there are many things that need fixing – that should have been written out rather than faked on the day.

Misc notes:

The deal with the control panel – what exactly is needed to work it correctly – should have been spelled out prior.

People didn’t like the audible alarms. They were just way too goddamn loud.

There was not a lot of scope for role-playing. It would up being a collaborative team-building exercise.

People found the puzzle at the core of the game more difficult than I expected. Of course, the thing that makes it difficult is all the paranoia. It has to be solved cooperatively.

I left setting up the aircon itself an hour late. I should have had it ready to go, instead of futzing around and leaving our players to amuse themselves.

Shooting people straight off the bat is a good move. Remember – we are playing Paranoia, people. Even as a GM, even with Matt telling me that I had to do it, and even given that it was Jamie who I had to shoot (which naturally makes it a great deal easier), I still found it a mental hurdle. Players who generally play nice really need to be shoved in that direction.

The puzzle also took a lot longer to solve than I expected. We put in some extra challenges to pad out the time, but for an evening game we could just about drop the players straight at the aircon and control room itself.

Overall: should have prepared more, should have prepared more, should have prepared more. I had four months to get this together. I should not have been asking Matt to do the character sheets the night before. All I had was some ideas, and I didn’t flesh them out. I still have a couple of ideas for making this a much more roleplay-oriented game (two main factions, essentially).

Nope – this is my blog. I won’t happy-face things. Could have, and should have, been better.

But I did gain insight into the world of Paranoia itself. Why does The Computer need human troubleshooters? It’s a bit of a secret, but I’ll tell you. It’s because humans can do the one thing that bots cannot. Oh, bots can think for themselves, they can be far more intelligent than almost any human. They can be creative, they can be physical. But troubleshooter scenarios always at their core have a dilemma for The Computer. Note that: not the characters, but The Computer itself. It must do X, and also must not do X. In this game, it was the need for secrecy about the air conditioner vs. the need to get it fixed.

If it should send a bot to fix things, the bot would simply get in a loop attempting to satisfy the conflicting requirements (although there was different reason why a bot could not fix the aircon in this particular scenario). It would sit there spinning: “Must/must not/must/must not”. But a human – only a human – can disobey, can resolve the dilemma by picking one of the two conflicting paths. The incompatible goals that the computer gives to the troubleshooters are not caprice. They are the requirements that it itself cannot satisfy: it exposes them as a cry for help.

According to The Crow, “‘Mother’ is the name of God in the mouth of every child”. Who then is God to The Computer? Perhaps they who can swoop in and rescue it from the straits it imposes on itself. Perhaps, like government, we each deserve the god we wind up with, in whose image we are made.

Strange times. I’m tired and philosphical.

Many thanks to our players. I shall be seeing some of you at Monday D&D, which will be awesome.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to scratch these bastards until they bleed.


One Response to RokCon I – 2012

  1. Jamie Reid says:

    It was a good game Paul! One I would happily play in again 🙂

    I’m going to take the comment about shooting me to mean that because we know each other well as roleplayers you knew that I would know it’s part of the game; not that you dream of shooting me 😛

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