PAX Australia 2013
Beyond Dungeons & Dragons
D&D is a great way to get into tabletop role playing games, and for most of us, it was our first foray into that world. As classic and dear to us as it is, however, it has certain limitations. If all you have is a hammer, then suddenly everything starts to look like a nail. Role playing systems are no different. The system that handles a raucous dungeon crawl is probably not well tuned for a cyberpunk procedural or modern romantic comedy.
GeekNights has flown here all the way from New York, and we'd love for you to join us for a discussion of the role mechanics play in role playing games. They have more of an effect than you might realize. If D&D was your first venture, then we're here to give you your next. Broaden your gaming horizons, flex your role-playing muscles, and learn what lies beyond Dungeons & Dragons.
This was performed at the first PAX Australia in 2013. Friday in the Wombat Theatre.
Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover: the pirate king Uriah Flint.
HOWEVER, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying a false flag.
EVEN NOW, Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the Imperial commander runs the smuggler ship's registry over the wireless. It's only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast, Cyrus Vance.
How will Lady Blackbird and the others escape the Hand of Sorrow?
What dangers lie in their path?
Will they be able to find the secret lair of the pirate king? if they do, will Uriah Flint accept Lady Blackbird as his bride? By the time they get there, will she want him to?
This is a game where backstory is written in play. it starts (and often ends) in media res. Star Wars Firefly, with a touch of steampunk.
In a post-scarcity transhuman future Utopia, there is only one question worth asking.
What do you do today?
Freemarket is a role playing game that explores this question and the kind of world that would ask it in the first place. Conflict is mediated by cards in an elegant system that enforces an ebb and flow of success and failure. Created by Luke Crane and Jared Sorensen.
PAX Prime 2013
We’ve all played “bad” games, but what truly makes a game “bad?” Is gaming beauty not in the eye of the beholder? Is one’s miserable experience not simply subjective opinion? Is there such a thing as an objectively “bad” game? More importantly, however we define the term, do bad games serve a purpose? Much as how without evil, there can be no good, without the worst of gaming, how could we possibly recognize the best?
It turns out that the problem is not in defining what makes a game “bad,” but in what makes a game a “game.” Some games are great at certain things, but terrible at others. Candyland teaches children colors and counting, but is a terrible candidate for a serious tournament. Dungeons & Dragons is great for that heroic fantasy adventure, but not so much for your future cyberpunk transhumanist court drama. Silver Surfer serves as a lesson (and a warning) to future game designers the world over.
Join us for a lively discussion of the worst of gaming, what that truly means, and what we can learn from “bad” games. You may find that some of the worst games ever made can be some of the most fun you’ve ever had.
Excerpted from Beyond Dungeons & Dragons at PAX AUS 2013, we take on the definition of the word "game." Following on from Garfield's "orthogame," we propose "idiogame" for another class of what all fall under the umbrella of "game." If an orthogame is " a competition between two or more players using an agreed-upon set of rules and a method of ranking," then an idiogame is roughly "a series of interesting decisions that produce a personal outcome."
Practical Game Theory
PAX East 2013
Presented on Saturday on the Tabletop Theatre, our 22nd PAX panel/lecture, we discuss a variety of game theory concepts and terms from the perspective of practical use as players of games. Being familiar with basic concepts like "cooperation" or "utility," coupled with an extended study of the "toy" games that actually exist as subgames within your games, you will be able to form more powerful heuristics for making good decisions.
We touch ever-so-briefly (and with a degree of oversimplification) on Combinatorial Game Theory, but ask the audience to attempt a sort of "deconstruction" of the class game Nim in order to arrive at some of the same basic principles.