The first Nerdly Beach Party was in the spring of 2007, which I wasn't able to attend. A second was organized in the spring of 2008. It is a small mini-convention conducted at San Simeon State Beach Park in central California. I drove down there with my son Milo. I foolishly drove down a scenic part of Highway 1 for part of the way, which was beautiful but made me arrive very late on Friday. I didn't actually find the campsite but instead stopped at another one.
The venue is a nice park by the beach. Downsides are that there isn't much tree cover so it can get fairly windy, but it was mostly calm for this session. There were shared breakfast and lunch provided, plus a potluck grilling for Saturday night.
There was another child there a bit younger than my son Milo (age 8) -- Clarissa (age 6). So they were able to play with each other for much of Saturday. I played three short adult games on Saturday with kid-tending in between, and then played with the kids on Sunday before leaving. Other posts on the gathering include:
I joined a bit late into a game of "Sons of Liberty" -- an over-the-top steampunk American Revolution game as run by the designer Josh Roby. I enjoyed it as silly fun for a while -- I think I played John Adams. The plot was all over the place, and scenes went very quickly as we narrated in all sort of crazy steampunk action. Submarines, power-armor, and hidden traps featured prominently. It's not a game I would take to in general, I conclude, but I enjoyed trying it and for me it was at least a good ice-breaker.
This was a playtest of Ryan Macklin's game in development, "Mythender". We played mythic heroes out to kill a monster and thus end its myth. There was a lot of narrated over-the-top action.
This was a straight run of Meguey Baker's "A Thousand and One Nights". I don't remember the details, but I believe I played a bloody-minded pre-teen boy -- who would always ask questions like "Was there a horrible demon?" or "Was there a lot of blood?".
On Sunday, I spent more kid time, and I played Bruce Harlick and Patrick Sweeney's Monster Island with them -- a simple indie RPG from Firefly Games. They made a serpent, a giant butterfly (like Mothra), and they teamed up against my three-headed dragon. They both got into it and we had a blast.
This was a lot of fun. On the positive side, there is a lot of socialization because everyone was around in the same space. When we weren't gaming, we ate together and sat around the fire and chatted. The conditions for playing many games are a little tricky, though, such as wind blowing papers away. In the future, I'll think more carefully about how to run games with this in mind.