My second game of the day, Apocalypse Pony, was originally SUPPOSED to be my big game of the convention – the cool idea I translated into an awesome experience for my players.
But for a few reasons I will get to in a moment, I left the game feeling very disheartened, like I had let my players down and hadn’t provided them with the experience that they should have gotten out of a game idea as cool as Apocalypse Pony.
I think that the concept was a good one – pretty much straight up Apocalypse World except the characters are ponies out of My Little Pony. I made up some character sheets (well, Sophie did most of that but I did the art and the proofing) I made up my Front sheet using villains from the show (King Sombra, the Smooze, and the Changeling ponies), made up a list of my moves, and emphatically didn’t come up with a major plot because that’s not the sort of thing you are supposed to do in Apocalypse World.
That didn’t work out so well.
I managed to upset one of the players about 1 2/2 hours into the game sufficiently that he got up and left the game. We talked about it afterwards, and part of it was misunderstanding and part of it was differing expectations, and part of it was a trust issue and part of it was me just not GMing as well as I should have (and incidentally, no hard feelings and I appreciate the input, Hocus Player). That really sort of knocked the stuffing out of me as facilitator, as well as pulling the lynchpin out of the community that had been set up, and things rather meandered to an unsatisfying conclusion 1 1/2 hours or so later, one hour short of my planned finish time.
Once again, all my players were stellar – I got good feedback from all of them on how to improve Apocalypse Pony, how to revise the characters, things to put in, things to leave out, and different ways of handling stuff in the future (thanks to you too, Omnicorn, Saint, and Engineer players!) I can’t say that it was a BAD game, but it was certainly a game that didn’t live up to my expectations, and I don’t think it lived up to the expectations of my players either.
But I learned from the experience, and I got good feedback from the experience, and I think that I can really improve Apocalypse Pony because of all the good ideas of my players. So it wasn’t exactly a failure. Still I felt pretty low for the rest of the day because of it, and couldn’t really enjoy or even fully focus on the game that followed. But don’t worry, there’s a happy ending down the road!