Midwinter Wrap-Up: The Convention That Helped Me Find What I Wanted To Be When I Grow Up

he Midwinter Gaming Convention takes place in downtown Milwaukee usually during the 2nd weekend in January. For some reason, geeks and industry professionals descend onto the city and play games for 4 days. This year, the actual reason people would brave our winter became known. Midwinter has now moved into a spot for me professionally that will be hard to pass. It has become both a place of networking and discovery.

This was the first year for the Industry Summit, and to be very honest, it has surpassed all other conventions in what I have taken away from. Not only have I met so many amazing people within the industry, but I also learned so much. Learning that my struggles and secret wishes for support were not that far off from everyone else was comforting and I feel as if I have a new perspective when it comes to others work. The lovely Anne, owner of Daydream Productions, made sure to gather everyone’s input on what they would want to see in the future, which was great to have. I’ve been to conventions where the workshops and discussions are all the same and it gets stale.

The main take away from the summit? Celebrate others achievements and setbacks. Why setbacks, you may ask? Because failure is always an option. You can learn so much from failure that you might never notice in any other setting. And there were a lot of achievements this Midwinter, all of which I am excited about.

Kicking off my highlights of Midwinter is FetchQuest! FetchQuest is a deck building game based off the Pugmire RPG. You get to play the main characters in the book and go on adventures. The game plays well to role playing out what your character does as you fight bad guys and complete quests. It is still in the Beta phase, but even at this point, the game is very solid. The design of the cards needed some tweaking with the lettering, but looks gorgeous overall. I will be backing it on Kickstarter once it is up, so watch for that!

Next up is a super cool LARP called Sidereal Sanctuaries, which looks at social justice issues through the lens of modern fantasy. It is a gorgeous game, and has been turning a lot of heads. I’ve been watching the development and art and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here. They had their first game at Midwinter and will probably be returning next year. This game is not for the faint of heart, so come prepared, but you will leave better of then you were when you started.

Another MAJOR announcement is that Onyx Path Publishing will be publishing the second edition of Dystopia Rising! The game will feature both tabletop and larp mechanics, and expand upon the world. They are working closely with the LARP organization of the same name to incorporate as much of their world as they are able, and build off their structure. This is a huge endeavor and one that I am looking forward to seeing. This is still in super early stages of development, but it is happening, and it is good.

Saturday I got to do something really cool for the first time. I’ve had a card game in my head for some time, so I wrote it all out, got some blank cards, and started alpha testing it with a couple of people. My main concern was it being a viable card game. My secondary concern was the rules and how it affects play. This was all new to me and it was very much a positive learning experience. I made sure to get people who I trusted to give me brutally honest feedback, and while the game had some kinks to work out, they overall enjoyed it. I will continue to tweak the game and move forward with this game. I’m not sure where this will lead, but it will not be boring!

I also got to alpha test a social game for a larp setting. This game has also been in my head for some years now, and seeing it play out was really neat. Again, the players BROKE the game, and I am forever thankful for it. I’ve been calling it A Quick Game of Chess, but I might change that. It needs some revisions, but this game will be up on DriveThru at some point, which means you can adapt it for your larp! Or it can be a party game as well. I will be sharing more on this later.

Second Act has their first larp debut at Midwinter and it went very well. I helped write the plot lines and ran some scenes for players. I had a ton of fun, and I’ll let you in on a secret. That was my first time doing ST work for a LARP. Ever. I do hope it went well. I got positive feedback on the game and was told it helped them interact with the established groups of players already in the room. 

Sunday I ran several workshops and games for a bunch of Girl Scouts and kids. I did Storytelling 101, which was a total adventure. I am hoping I was able to help some young girl scouts find their way in the gaming world, and as several people stated, I look forward to having my characters face melted off by a gaggle of girls who are not afraid to go for it. Bring it on ladies!

I also ran FirstFable and Mermaid Adventures, which were both awesome games. Everyone had fun, and I even incorporated a little 6 year olds birthday into my PLOT for Mermaid Adventures. We even sang Happy Birthday as our characters to her. How neat is that?!

My loot this year was fantastic. I will be writing more on each of these as I read through them. They all caught my attentions for multiple reasons, and I fall a little more in love with them every time I see them.

Overall Midwinter is a fantastic convention. It’s growing in size every year, but is not over crowded. If you want more information, please visit their site! I look forward to next years convention and everything it entails. 

my loot!    

my loot! 

 

Pentex Retreat: Midwinter Gaming Convention

Overall Impression: 

I had a lot of fun with the Pentex LARP. I enjoyed playing an NPC that had a very different agenda than what we were presenting and getting to manipulate people. It was a wonderful social experiment, and I think what made it very fun was everyone else was on board with the genre we were playing in. Given that this was the first run of this LARP, there are obvious places to improve, and I look forward to working on them with the STs to create an amazing experience for the players. 

Check In System: 

While the Check In-System was only used a few times in our 5 hour LARP, I feel like it was a great way for players to be able to have an intense scene and everyone have a say over how intense they got. I really hope the Check In-System will continue to be used in all future LARPs, and I will be talking to other LARP communities about this system. I am happy my current LARP also uses this, and I will be working on implementing this into my roleplaying style. Thank you for using it!

Paper-Clip System: 

I think this was a great way to give PCs a way to pass around favors, pay for information from the STs, and generally have a way to trade without carrying around a bunch of notecards. While I want the system to remain as open as it is, maybe explaining the paper-clip system a bit or offering examples of how to use the paperclips. 

Plots:

The plots I was involved in were great, and I loved figuring them out or being the catalyst of them. I would have liked a couple more quick sentences about the other plots so I could answer questions or work them into my interactions with PCs. I also loved that PCs made their own plots and ran with them. I think that was a great way to pull in players and get others involved, and I was glad to see the staff running with them. 

 

I also loved the fact that actual future products were used in the LARP, such as the Orpheus Device. I loved that there was a tie-in for real products and really would love to see this again if it is allowed. 

Suggestions:

The following are suggestions that I heard from players, observed myself, or found myself in agreement with when they were brought up during the wrap up. 

Maybe provide the write-up for the Subsidiaries and their ties as a download/Drive document for players to pull up. A lot of the players were having problems understanding how they fit into the system (except for Black Dog. Everyone knew them and had very strong feelings for them)

Maybe giving different goals to the characters who don’t want to be there, such as trying to cause as much headache for the others as possible. I think the players naturally did this well with the PCs that didn’t want to be there, however, several were a bit lost on how to get involved with them. 

I think we can come up with a couple more games to do for the players. If there is another interview process, we can interview while the games are going on. Or we can ‘judge’ them by standing with clipboards and such.

Character Wrap-Up: Inspirational Music Two Birds, One Stone (Wes Borland/Renholder Remix) by Drop Dead, Gorgeous

Rport: Pentex retreat was successful with the exception of the Orpheus individuals. Sterling has authorized *redacted* to retrieve any video and information from their Cloud and rewrite their systems should it be needed. 

Magadon has been taken down a peg for not following orders from the Pentex. One individual was arrested and taken away by the police. Please follow up with the department and make sure he is handled. 

Project Orpheus has several individuals stood out for selection to the Project. Kevin Clayton from Tellus Enterprises, from Magadon, Inc, and Kelly Wayans from Black Dog. Please note: more screening will be needed, as my time with them was cursory at best. Perhaps a second interview would be in order for me to determine if they will fit the project parameters. 

Avery Valentine has stood out as someone who would be very useful for the Synergy Committee, and perhaps further into Pentex. His skill set is unique and he is ruthless. He is willing to do what is needed to get the job done, which Pentex finds admirable. 

Kevin has been handled and our doctors, Avery Valentine and Angel Robertson, have made sure that all of his medical files are in order. Should a new head of the committee be needed, I would be happy to fill that role. 

Mary Ellis

Project Orpheus 

download (6).jpg