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Even if time is just a flicker of light and we all have to die alone
me and boys, nappy heads
Themes: Conflicting responsibilities; Choices and consequences; Isolation; Loss

I find it interesting, and a little worrying that White Rabbit has filled so fast. I wonder what people are expecting from the game and what it will deliver.

White Rabbit has had a long gestation... It's the game I started planning after my first Kapcon 4 years ago. If my writing happened in a logical way, this would have been my first Kapcon game.

White Rabbit is not 'So Cold in Alaska'. It is similar to Alaska in that it's a response to events in my own life, and to the wider social context that these stem from. Jess Lapin is a single mother. She loves her daughter. She is also a Starship Captain. That's not just a job, but a vocation. She loves that too... Maybe more than she loves her child. How's that going to work for her? How will other people react to it? If her two roles come into conflict (which is pretty much inevitable) how long can she juggle both? What compromises will she make and how will that affect her child, her crew, her mission, her society? I have absolutely no idea (well maybe a few ideas)... and that's what makes it interesting! Other characters will also face similar challenges, and hopefully most will have to make hard choices at some point in the end-game.

I've had some amused comment on the genres section of my blurb... People are (quite legitimately) wondering how well feel-good family space opera is going to fit with Black Comedy and Horror. In my head I have this beautiful, logical thing, and if I could draw you a 4-D diagram, you'd have it too and it would all make sense :-)

In essence, White Rabbit will be a game in 3 acts, with one genre predominating in each, though hopefully it will flow, and this discontinuity won't be apparent in game. I'll talk about the 2nd and 3rd stages in later posts, but for now...

Act 1. Feel Good Family Drama

This first phase will be strongly influenced by new generation Star Trek and be light-hearted in tone. but hopefully the characters will make choices that will set things up naturally (without too much external GM push) to cause problems in the next stage. I aim to use team-building/training techniques, cunningly disguised as plot, to get people laughing, chatting, working together in groups. Unlike a conventional horror game, I'll encourage people (especially those playing kids) to be silly, show off and do things that don't appear to follow the story arc. The rest of the game will build on this phase, and that childish behaviour may turn out to be critical to the survival of the Argent. Actions have consequences. Especially when you are isolated in a metal box in a hostile environment.

The whole game hinges on player buy-in at this stage. For the game to have the impact I hope for, it will be important that players identify with their characters and characters love each other... We'll need to build families, a community that cares and characters that have something to lose, because that means that they won't give in...

Alaska was inspired by a single song... White Rabbit has a few, but if there is one that encompasses the whole game, I think it will be this one.

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I think people are expecting to play a game by a GM who has proven she can write compelling characters and put them in a thoughtful and engaging situation.

I'm glad I decided to run Dungeon World before this. I'll need to get my gung-ho action out of the way before I get in the box!

Also, this makes me want to look at Echoes again.

I think I can deliver on the characters and the situation. What I'm less confident about is my ability to hold in my mind all the threads those characters generate and draw them together at the end. I don't want to have a fixed conclusion, but I want it to have that fateful feel. Jess and some of the other (as yet un-named) characters feel slightly mythic to me... heroes from a Starship Troopers propaganda film, or from Shakespearean or Greek tragedy... More awesome than ordinary people, with strengths that are the flaws that ultimately doom them...or not... hey... it might all end well :)

No, no, please gung ho away! The more you gung and ho, the harder you'll fall!


Make copious notes to work it all out/keep it all straight?

Maybe... I think that if I do that, I might get obsessed with the detail and end up off down some track in my mind, that would make the more social aspects of GMing difficult.

I'm considering having a logging system... After all Argent sees everything, even the things the GM misses while she is distracted :-)

Well if it helps, I'm one of your players in round 2. I'm not going to make the play test.

Yay!! Ooooo... You it will be so good to run this for you!

As to making it better? It raises the stakes, because I want to impress you far more than some random stranger... But also increases the odds of success, because if I am feeling insecure I can get you to play one of the pivotal characters and hold part of the story for me :-)

Don't stress. I am sure the game will be awesome and you can never accomodate player expectations in any case. The concepts I have heard sound awesome so far and I think I get what you are aiming for.

I also feel a little kindred-ship here. The scenario I am working on was also thought about 4 years ago, is contained in 3 Acts, has a clash of genres and yet still aims at creating a strong emotional repsonse first and foremost :)

Good luck.

Thank you! I hope it will be a good game... I guess my problem is that I want it to be a great game... a game that has meaning and makes people think. And I'm not sure if I can pull it off.

One thing in my head is a conversation I had with Dale and Mash and others at DoG, where the implication seemed to be that a really good con game is bulletbroof... that it can't be wrecked by a disenchanted player or the GM having a bad day. White Rabbit will never be such a game... I'm going to have to give it everything and bring most of the players right into the scenario or Argent just won't fly!

Some games are great because they make you think, some because they make you feel, some because they are fun and some just are. Sometimes a game is great just because you feel it needs to be told and you stuck with it. True happiness comes from embracing the many paths that lead to it, not just one :)

As for bullet proof games, was Alaska bullet proof? I can't help but feel that any scenario that doesn't scare the pants out of the GM is unlikely to have that edge that can make it a great game.

Actually... it was part of a discussion/criticism of Alaska... which the wrong player(s) could definitely spoil... was insanely hard to run... and none of us were sure if someone else could run it, even given all the material.

I don't see the last to be a valid criticism. For the most part, Kapcon games are not designed for someone else to run. That is a very good thing in a way.

As to insanely hard to run, that's a personal thing. I understand the need to moderate this (its so easy to burn out) but its not something to necessarily something criticise a game on that you have run successfully.

You ran Alaska and it was awesome by the sounds of it. If it could have been run by anyone else and was easy to run, would it have been so awesome? :)

[quote]"where the implication seemed to be that a really good con game is bulletbroof... that it can't be wrecked by a disenchanted player or the GM having a bad day."[/quote]

Speaking only for myself, I believe my take was that the gold standard of a 'con game is that it is replicable. That is - that another GM could run it with a different group of players and have just as good an experience. Not that they always would - just that they could. Ideally such a scenario would also provide tools to allow the GM to combat common issues or flaws of a scenario - although not obviously such advice would not forsee absolutely everything that might occur to detract from the game.

Yup! That was it... It kind of bummed me out at the time, because I do work quite hard on my games, but think I'm probably not dedicated enough to write that gold standard scenario. Certainly Alaska wasn't and White Rabbit won't be. Consistency is not one of my strengths, I'm afraid, though I do try!

Well it certainly wasn't intended to be a comment about you. Indeed it was an aspirational objective - the scientific test of a good game - the hallowed ground which few ever reach. I'm not sure any of my scenarios have ever achieved this standard, and until you write them up there's no real way to tell... Perhaps White Rabbit for the SDC next year?

Probably not next year. That was my plan, but I am doing 2 extramural papers that I'm finding quite tough going(in addition to fulltime work and parenting)... Exams finish mid-October and I'm play testing White Rabbit in early December. Even though Marcus has promised to help develop resources, I have to get them to the point where he can see what I'm aiming for and I'm still going to struggle to pull it all together I think.

Exams finish Mid-November!!! Broken brain :)

BTW I didn't so much see it as a comment about me, as a useful conversation that I could learn something from... It made me think about where my gaming is headed and what I would need to do if I do want to reach a wider audience at some point. Not wise right now... I think I have about as much on my plate as it will hold!

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