Nerdly Beach Party Fall 2011 Report

         This was the eighth of the Nerdly Beach Party gatherings, and had just switched organizers from Albert and Nancy to Ryan Macklin. I again attended with my son Milo. It was again at San Simeon State Park, as has usually been the case. This time we had four couples (two with toddlers), twelve individuals, and one single parent (me) -- for a total of 21 adults and 3 kids.


Fri Night: "Blowback"

         Friday night I played in a run of Blowback - the blacklisted spies game by Elizabeth Shoemaker, based on the Burn Notice series. It was run by Garret Narjes - one of the pair of attendees from Minnesota. We started late since everyone had to arrive, set up camp, and have dinner - but we jumped into play pretty quickly after working out issues with lighting and space. There was a brief break about an hour in when we had a brief thunderstorm, but it went away quickly. Garret proposed the city of New Orleans as the setting, which was where our team landed after a mission went bad in Iraq (my suggestion). First we made the Professional characters - i.e. the spies:

During the process of character generation, we filled in a few more details about the mission that went wrong - with some details from Garret and some from us. We were going to capture a corrupt Iraqi oil executive that was about to sell out to the Russians. As we watched him, it seemed like he was tipped off - and when we ambushed his car, agent Sarah found our handler in the back seat with a gun pointed at her. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out why there was radio chatter in Chinese. Around the same time, we were making the Civilian contacts for our characters.

         I specified another NPC contact - a New Orleans policeman named Couvreaux who my Professional went to anger management therapy with. The GM Garrett used him as the jumping off point for our mission, where he asked me to help keep his college-age son away from his cocaine dealer and habit.

Sat Morning: Pickup Games

         Saturday morning was cloudy but clear. There was a lot of chatting over breakfast and post-breakfast, and I also got in a game of Magic: The Gathering with Milo and Justin. It was a close three-way game, where later in I was behind - but we both started to kill Milo when he got a runaway vampire power. I held off the final stroke in the hopes of playing him off Justin - but Milo killed me and then won.

Sat Afternoon: Hellcats & Hockeysticks

         After lunch, I ran my game of Hellcats & Hockeysticks - the RPG of "chaos, anarchy, and decidedly unladylike behavior" by Andrew Peregrine based on the St. Trinian's movies. The PCs are over-the-top bad schoolgirls in a copy of the school with magic and weird science called St. Erisian's. Character creation is by picking an archetype, assigning 20 skill points, pick a best friend and rival among the other PCs, a secret fear, and most importantly, deciding what trouble your character is currently doing. I had two women and one 11-year-old son as my players - and luckily they all knew St. Trinian's. Their characters were:

         Fears, best friends, and rivals didn't come up much in this game. Crystal and Penny both had each other as rivals and Nicky as best friend. Nicky had Crystal as best friend and Penny as rival. Their fears were: being in last place (Penny), doors without locks (Crystal), and heights (Nicky). I also asked Crystal for two contacts as part of her Fixer ability. She picked a dirty cop named Cassandra Richards (an alum of St. Erisian's), and her brother Arthur in the German mob (who now goes by "Gunther").

         I started with a strong in-media-res opening. From the intersection of trouble, I thought the scene was clear. Penny had snuck into the teacher's room and got a marginal success opening the cabinet, only to find a bomb counting down: 5, 4, 3... She leapt from the 4th story window. Out in the quad Crystal had just sold a pistol to a first-year, when the explosion panicked her and she began firing wildly in all directions. From two bad rolls, Crystal was shot in the chest - and the PTSD-ridden Iraqi war veteran Coach Stanhouse was tending her and calling for a medic. In short order, Penny was in the infirmary, Crystal was in the hospital, and everyone knew that Nicky had planted the bomb.

         It slowed a little after that. I picked up a day later as Crystal got back from the hospital. Headmistress Dalton called them all in and gave them a stern lecture about misbehavior, and how St. Erisian girls have to pull together and help each other. She demanded that the first years all turn their guns in by the following day.

         At that point we took a break, and I settled on my "villain" for the adventure. After the headmistress' talk, I said that Home Ec teacher Ms. Manworthy hissed a threat at them and said she would not tolerate them no matter what the headmistress said - and that her policeman fiancee would lock them up. From there we went to:

         Everyone was really stoked about the game, which I thought went really well. Milo had been skeptical about playing teenage girls, but he loved it. His feedback was that the best thing was how he could see all of the game happening in his mind very clearly. I didn't use secret fears much this game, but I was conscientious about giving Willpower awards whenever they defeated opponents.

Sat Evening: Dungeon World

         This was a straight run of Dungeon World by Vernon.

There wasn't a huge amount of background, but my bonds were: "I stole something from Freya"; "Bathsheba has my back when things go wrong"; "Bathsheba knows incriminating details about me"; and "Fenferil and I have a con running".

The action revolved around a fight against the gnoll bandit Thenrex and Bloody Snout, who had taken an artifact called the Eye of Avandra. We made our way past perytons up to a fortress on a cliff, ending with a climactic fight against a summoned evil god. My character Mouse ended up hanging over a precipice, and was "saved" by an evil abomination they had contacted in caves below the fortress - and presumably ended up a mindless slave of the creature.

Overall, I liked this slightly more than Apocalypse World. Still, it was not a major draw for me. I tried it with my own group a few weeks later, but we stopped after 1 or 2 sessions.

Sun Morning: Small World

         Played Small World with Justin, Milo, and myself. Milo won handily after starting with the Amazons.


         As usual, this was an excellent time outside of the gaming - including the endless supply of bacon in the morning, wandering the park with Milo, sharing drinks with everyone, and chatting about various topics around the campfire (gaming and otherwise).


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Sat Jan 28 15:53:00 2012