RokCon I – 2012

5 February, 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.


3 February, 2012

Well, Manda’s game went just fine. Jack sound-blasted some skellingtons, and did a kill-steal on evil cultist #3. The bardic song actually made a difference on a couple of rolls, which is the whole point. I won’t be participating long-term, but seeing as I have run AoW it wouldn’t really be feasible. Looking forward to running Korgul in Andrew’s game.

Other Andrew (Friday Andrew) is off on business, so I shall be running Serpent’s Skull for the three weeks for the Friday guys. The team has escaped from Smuggler’s Shiv and has Yarzoth’s notes regarding the location of the fabled city Saveth Yhi. But the notes are not only in Aklo, but in an obscure, archaic dialect. Plus: the party really doesn’t have means to mount an expedition. Perhaps selling the notes might be the best thing. But first order of business will no doubt be cashing in loot and gearing up.

But the big news is RokCon @ Caloola farm. I’ll be playing in the games, but I am also running a LARP set in the Paranoia universe. A team of troubleshooters is dispatched to perform routine maintenance on a climate control unit. It is completely safe, and will be fun. The Computer says so, and The Computer is your friend.

How did I wind up becoming involved in running a LARP? Well … Matt ran Angel of Prague a few months back – the second live game I have ever been in. I wondered if it would theoretically be possible to set a game in – let’s get crazy – Paranoia. I tossed around some ideas. A few weeks later, Matt said he was putting on RokCon and oh by the way would I be interested in running my game. (!) As you’d expect, Matt is actually doing most of the work of writing the damn thing.

I do hope it doesn’t suck. I have props – the air conditioner itself, the crypto unit, some mini-blasters, experimental weapon R-MTY-17, security tape. Matt is doing the overalls. Didn’t manage to arrange the fun-paks, either. Hope the players bought some, or else they will be on report for insubordination pretty much straight away. (A fun-pak is a pack for fun. The fun is mandatory, citizen.) And I should probably bring my drill – but I don’t want to carry too much junk. Oh: and I printed off some treason report and authorisation for termination forms. Just in case.

So. Another big weekend. There’s a kitchen there. Has Matt organised food, or should I also bring sausages?